CALPED, Others Advocate Multi-stakeholder Engagement On Audit Reports In Kaduna State

CALPED, Others Advocate Multi-stakeholder Engagement On Audit Reports In Kaduna State

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By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON

A coalition has advocated the engagement of all key stakeholders in the review of audit reports pending before the Kaduna State House of Assembly.

This was part of the resolutions as part of the communique issued at the end of a one-day dialogue organised by the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED) and Kudan Development Network under the Kaduna State Anti-Corruption Network, with support from Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies (Mambayya House) and MacArthur Foundation,  on Strengthening Community-led Anti-Corruption and Accountability Engagement Leveraging Audit Process in Kaduna State.

The communique jointly signed  Seth Luke of 

Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) and Yusuf Ishaku Goje of Kaduna State Anti-Corruption Network, stressed that such engagements would yeild positive results.

“Strengthen multi-stakeholder engagements with the Public Accounts Committee of the State House of Assembly on the pending Audit reports yet to be reviewed by the Committee towards improving citizens’ participation, contribution in the audit process,” it said. 

Also as part of the resolutions, they demanded  a  stepping down of  the dialogue to communities starting with Chikun and Kudan local government areas to increase awareness on the audit process and social accountability.

They also noted that partnership with the Ministry for Local Government Affairs and Kaduna Local Government Accountability Mechanism (KAD-LGAM) to step down the Community-led Anti-Corruption and Accountability Project, would be important.

Furthermore, they said, “Mobilize and train more CLAAP advocates to check corruption during procurement and project executions at the community level. 

Develop a reporting template that stakeholders can use to effectively report to Audit Alarm Committee infractions and public financial issues.

“Advocate and see to the creation of a permanent dialogue mechanism between non-state actors and the Office(s) of Auditor General of Kaduna State Government and Local Governments on fiscal and process performance to improve access to relevant information across Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Kaduna State Government and the Local Government Councils.”

The communique said that the dialogue was convened on  May 26, 2022, towards championing community-led anti-corruption engagement and contributing to the commitment on Open Budget of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – Kaduna State Action Plan (SAP, 2021-2023) and State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability & Sustainability (SFTAS – P4R) Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI, 2).

“The dialogue had the objectives to: increase stakeholders’ awareness on the audit law, institutions and process towards better transparency, accountability and stakeholders’ engagement in fighting corruption; brainstorm on approaches for better collaboration in the audit process for both vertical and horizontal accountability towards improved quality of service delivery and curbing corruption; and agree and commit to strategic actions for improving the audit process as a channel for Community-led Anti-corruption engagement in Kaduna State. 

During the course of the dialogue a number of key observations were made and resolutions reached.

They include, procurement/contracting process beong identified as the major channel for public corruption leading to low quality of service delivery and value for money in project executions, with most communities being short-changed and exposed to the resultant negative impact that cuts across poor education and healthcare services, unemployment, poverty and insecurity.

“Stakeholders at the engagement commended the Kaduna State government for committing to reform initiatives such as the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability & Sustainability (SFTAS) programme that have improved fiscal transparency, accountability and citizens engagement. 

“As a result of these reforms, hitherto secret documents such as the Auditor-General’s reports are now publicly available. The amended Audit Law mandates the Office of the Auditor General to make public its reports by publishing it on the State government website. It further gives the public powers, in section 39, sub-section 5, to report to the Audit Alarm Committee cases of fraudulent, irregular and illegal payments made by government institutions.

“Despite these enablers, the audit process is the least engaged in the budget cycle by civil society organizations, community stakeholders and media. 

“To strengthen the audit process in curbing mismanagement and corruption as envisaged by the law, effective community participation and engagement should be strengthened to ensure quality service delivery and value for money in public project execution.

“The amended law has enabled the Office of the Auditor General for Local Government to effectively carry out its mandate, as it has been consistent in auditing the accounts of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State. The Office has also been consistent in publishing its comprehensive report, with progressive improvements annually, in line with the law,” the communique said.

It explained that the Kaduna State Government has two important laws, the Anti-Corruption and Whistle Blower laws, enacted to enhance the fight against corruption in the state. As a result, the Kaduna State Anti-Corruption Unit was established under the Ministry of Justice.

“Despite low awareness of the activities of the Anti-Corruption Unit, they have been able to investigate a few corruption-related cases leveraging their partnership with the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

“The Unit is faced with the challenges of insufficient staff, low level of cooperation from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) and banks during investigations. 

“On its part, the Kaduna State Fiscal Responsibility Commission has a critical role to play in the fight against corruption, especially through ensuring fiscal discipline and responsibility by government MDAs. 

“The Commission has been unable to effectively carry out its mandate due to change of leadership within four years, insufficient funding, shortage of vehicles and the lack of powers to enforce fiscal discipline,” it informed.

The stakeholders stressed the need for community stakeholders to partner with the Office of the Auditor General for Local Government, Kaduna State Anti-Corruption Unit, Public Account Committee of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and Fiscal Responsibility Commission was emphasized in fighting public corruption during procurement process and project execution in their communities.

“The short video for public education on corruption and channels of accessing relevant information as well as reporting cases of corruption was played,” it added.

In attendance at the dialogue, were the representative of the Office of the Auditor General for Local Government, Head of the Kaduna State Anti-Corruption Unit,  Permanent Commissioner – Kaduna State Fiscal Responsibility Commission, representative of the Ministry for Local Government Affairs, Deputy Director Research and Documentation – Mambayya House, traditional rulers, community stakeholders from Chikun and Kudan local governments, civil society organizations and media.

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