By Seyi Babalola
Twenty-one of Nigeria’s 36 states earned a rating of “fair” in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria rating system for states’ compliance with audit rules as of October 2023. It is the ICAN Accountability Index.
Three states earned the “Excellent” rating, and nine scored “Good”.
The 1999 Nigerian Constitution mandates states and local governments to submit audited accounts by the auditor general after reviewing the financial statement by the Accountant General.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria commenced audit rating for states in Nigeria in 2014 to assess the financial management and accountability of state governments in Nigeria.
States with a ” fair ” ranking are Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, and Cross River. Ebonyi, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi are others. Also on the list are Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
The ICAN assessment of states’ audits focuses on compliance with audit rules and regulations and the quality and timeliness of audit reports, resulting in a rating of Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor for each state.
Dr Innocent Okwuosa, the 59th president of ICAN, remarked, “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.”
Dr Okwuosa noted the compliance variations. “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.”
A “Fair” ranking by the ICAN rules means “The state government has a fair level of compliance with audit rules. The audit reports may be submitted late or may not be of high quality. The state government may also not implement all of the audit recommendations.”
Criteria for The ICAN Accountability Index are the timeliness of reports, the quality of audit reports and the implementation of audit reports. Assessment of the quality of audit reports is based on three factors of
Whether the audit reports are prepared following the relevant accounting and auditing standards.
Whether the audit reports are comprehensive and informative.
Whether the audit reports contain any findings or recommendations.
The “implementation of audit recommendations” criterion measures how well state governments implement the audit recommendations made by the auditors.
Other marks on the rating are:
Excellent: The state government has a high level of compliance with audit rules. The audit reports are submitted on time and are of high quality. The state government also implements the audit recommendations effectively.
Good: The state government has a good level of compliance with audit rules. The audit reports are submitted on time and are of good quality. The state government also makes an effort to implement the audit recommendations.
Poor: The state government has poor compliance with audit rules. The audit reports may be submitted very late or may not be submitted at all. The audit reports may also be of poor quality. The state government may also not implement any of the audit recommendations.
The ICAN Accountability Index encourages states to comply with audit reporting requirements stipulated in the 1999 Nigerian constitution.
ICAN also has a Performance by States ranking focusing on the overall performance of state governments across indicators of economic growth, education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Organisations that conduct the Performance by States ranking include the World Bank, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa. It results in a ranking of states from best to worst.
A past ICAN president, Ismaila M. Zakari, managing partner of Ahmed Zakari & Co, drew attention to the index at the Audit Reporting Workshop of FrontFoot Media Initiative in Lagos on 25-26 October 2023.
Zakari spoke on Advancing Good Governance and Democracy Through Effective Public Financial Management Systems. He underlined the relationship between democracy and good governance, highlighted by accountability. He asserted that the audit report is one of the steps to ensure accountable government.
The Audit Reporting Training speakers included 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, said FrontFoot Media Initiative conducts the Audit Reporting Training to contribute to media capacity building and enhance accountability by state and local government officials. FrontFoot has held audit reporting workshops in Benin, Awka, Abuja, and Lagos.
Participants at the Audit Reporting Training “learn how and where to locate the relevant reports, interpret the material, and write engaging news stories and features that will enlighten, stimulate, and empower the electorate, and discourage impunity”.
The ICAN Rating
ICAN Accountability Index Rating