In an evaluation of Nigeria’s states’ compliance with audit rules, Ekiti, Osun, and Lagos have emerged as the frontrunners, securing an “Excellent” rating in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Accountability Index for October 2023. The assessment, aimed at ensuring financial accountability and good governance, saw a total of 21 states receiving a “Fair” rating, while nine states were categorized as “Good.”
The ICAN Accountability Index was established in 2014 to gauge the financial management and accountability of state governments in Nigeria, in adherence to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, which mandates states and local governments to submit audited accounts. The assessment focuses on compliance with audit rules and regulations, as well as the quality and timeliness of audit reports.
Dr. Innocent Okwuosa, the 59th president of ICAN, highlighted the significance of the rankings, stating, “The rankings suggest an overall trend of improving compliance with the constitutional requirement to audit state and LG accounts since the introduction of the ICAN Accountability Index. However, significant variation still exists among states, highlighting the need for continued efforts to ensure consistent compliance and strengthen accountability practices across all states in Nigeria. The rankings provide valuable insights into the progress and areas that require further attention.”
He also pointed out the variations in compliance among states, noting, “Compliance varies significantly among states, as reflected in their rankings. States like Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Edo, and Niger have consistently improved their rankings over the years, suggesting a sustained commitment to auditing accounts. However, some states, like Bayelsa and Ekiti, have shown fluctuating performance, indicating the need for more consistent efforts.”
The ICAN Accountability Index considers several criteria, including the timeliness of reports, the quality of audit reports, and the implementation of audit recommendations. States are ranked as “Excellent,” “Good,” “Fair,” or “Poor” based on their performance in these areas.
The ICAN Accountability Index serves as a crucial tool to encourage states to adhere to audit reporting requirements specified in the 1999 Nigerian constitution.
Apart from the ICAN Accountability Index, other organizations such as the World Bank, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa conduct Performance by States rankings, focusing on the overall performance of state governments across various indicators, including economic growth, education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
Ismaila M. Zakari, a former ICAN president and managing partner of Ahmed Zakari & Co., emphasized the importance of accountability in advancing good governance and democracy at a recent Audit Reporting Workshop. He highlighted the relationship between democracy and good governance, underlining the crucial role that audit reports play in ensuring accountable governance.
The Audit Reporting Training featured notable speakers such as Mr. Tilewa Adebayo, Chief Executive of The CFG Advisory, Lagos, and Mrs. Onawunmi Omobolanle, partner Assurance at Deloitte Consulting.
Mr. Emeka Izeze, director and partner, of FrontFoot Media Initiative, stated that the Audit Reporting Training aims to enhance media capacity and promote accountability by state and local government officials. The initiative has conducted audit reporting workshops in various Nigerian cities, empowering participants to locate relevant reports, interpret the material, and write informative news stories that enlighten, stimulate, and empower the electorate while discouraging impunity.