As of October 2023, Lagos, one of Nigeria’s 36 states, has earned an “Excellent” rating in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Accountability Index, setting the bar high for audit compliance among the nation’s states.
The ICAN Accountability Index, established by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, serves as a comprehensive evaluation system designed to assess states’ adherence to audit regulations. The index encompasses various criteria, including the timeliness of reports, the quality of audit reports, and the implementation of audit recommendations.
Out of the 36 Nigerian states, Lagos stands at the forefront with an “Excellent” rating, indicating a high level of compliance with audit rules and regulations. Lagos is commended for its timely submission of quality audit reports and effective implementation of audit recommendations.
The 1999 Nigerian Constitution mandates states and local governments to submit audited accounts to the Auditor General after a meticulous review of the financial statement by the Accountant General. The ICAN Accountability Index was introduced in 2014 to assess and enhance the financial management and accountability of state governments across Nigeria.
Dr. Innocent Okwuosa, the 59th President of ICAN, provided valuable insights into the state rankings, emphasising the substantial progress observed in compliance with constitutional requirements since the inception of the ICAN Accountability Index. Dr. Okwuosa noted, “The rankings suggest an overall trend of improving compliance with the constitutional requirement to audit state and local government accounts. 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.”
Dr. Okwuosa further underscored the disparities in compliance, stating, “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 uses specific criteria for evaluation, which include the timeliness of reports, the quality of audit reports, and the implementation of audit recommendations. Assessments of the quality of audit reports are based on factors like adherence to relevant accounting and auditing standards, comprehensiveness, informativeness, and the inclusion of findings and recommendations. Additionally, the “implementation of audit recommendations” criterion measures the effectiveness of state governments in executing recommendations made by auditors.
The ICAN Accountability Index serves as a driving force to encourage states to adhere to audit reporting requirements stipulated in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. It reflects Nigeria’s commitment to financial transparency, good governance, and accountability.
ICAN also conducts the Performance by States ranking, which offers an overall assessment of state governments’ performance in various domains, including economic growth, education, healthcare, and infrastructure. This ranking is in line with global initiatives by organisations such as the World Bank, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa.
It is worth noting that Ismaila M. Zakari, a past ICAN President and Managing Partner of Ahmed Zakari & Co, highlighted the importance of the ICAN Accountability Index during the Audit Reporting Workshop of FrontFoot Media Initiative. Zakari emphasised the vital link between democracy and good governance, underlining the role of accountability in fostering both. The audit report, he asserted, is a crucial tool in promoting accountable governance.
The Audit Reporting Training event featured esteemed speakers such as Mr. Tilewa Adebayo, Chief Executive of The CFG Advisory in Lagos, and Mrs. Onawunmi Omobolanle, Partner Assurance at Deloitte Consulting.
Mr. Emeka Izeze, Director and Partner, emphasised that FrontFoot Media Initiative conducts the Audit Reporting Training to bolster media capacity and enhance accountability among state and local government officials. This initiative has successfully organised audit reporting workshops in various cities, including Benin, Awka, Abuja, and Lagos.
The ICAN Accountability Index, as evidenced by Lagos’s “Excellent” rating, demonstrates Nigeria’s commitment to financial transparency, accountability, and good governance, setting a high standard for other states to follow suit.
Source: Frontfoot Media Initiative