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The Federal Executive Council has approved the implementation of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audits of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to strengthen control over government finances.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said this on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adeosun said the presidential initiative was in line with the President’s budget speech, where he pledged to introduce a continuous audit process, particularly in respect of payroll.
According to her, the World Bank has indicated its interest in assisting the Federal Government in the implementation of the audit process.
She said: “The approval granted by the Federal Executive Council for Presidential Initiative on continuous audit….
“In the budget speech, the President gave an undertaking that we would introduce a continuous audit process, particularly of payroll, and already that work has resulted in the elimination of about 23,000 fraudulent recipients of federal salary and more work is still
“We felt that the continuous audit work should not just be limited to payroll.
“There is actually need to strengthen internal audit across government and to that extent, the World Bank had in 2010 started an initiative to try and introduce real-space internal audit in Nigeria, but it wasn’t successful.
“The World Bank has indicated its readiness to support us in this initiative again.”
The Minister stated that the council deliberated extensively about the need for the effective implementation of the audit process.
Adeosun said FEC had also agreed that the control framework over finance and spending of government’s money needed to be strengthened, especially in anticipation of the approval of the budget, which she described as “an extended budget”.
She added: “If we don’t strengthen our controls, then there is a risk that that money would leak or be applied to the wrong things and, therefore, the ability to go into various agencies without notice and check and do audits and updates to make sure that public money is being spent in accordance with our expectations and objectives.
“FEC approved the setting up of this initiative effectively using an executive order to create internal audit to enable us (to) continue this work and to extend it to everywhere that federal money is being spent or received so that we can have better oversight.”
Adeosun said no additional staff would be recruited for the implementation of the audit process, adding that government would be using existing staff, qualified accountants within the office of the Accountant General and within the Federal Civil Service.
According to her, another fresh 11,000 suspected ghost workers are being investigated by the government.
Adeosun said: “On the issue of the ghost workers, of the 23,000 that we have removed, our payroll has reduced by N2.29 billion per month.
“The update on that is that we are now investigating another potential 11,000.
“Again, we are using computer techniques to identify those who we need to investigate.
“So, we are now looking at the second batch and as we resolve those cases we would inform you of the amount saved and the number of people removed.”