…Buhari: The move to rein in spending habits of governors
“The recent agreement between the federal and state governments to implement a fiscal sustainability plan (FSP) marks a new level in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s ambition to cure the government at federal and state levels of their corruptions ills.”
With this, it was announced last week that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is poised to put the Nation’s 36 states’ management of their finances to the spotlight, according to a statement on these pages last Wednesday in form of a news analysis by Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President.
Titled “President Buhari takes anti-graft to states,” Malam Shehu said it is aimed to further the mantle of Buhari’s zero tolerance for corruption to states and local governments.
He explained: “It is with a view to waging a very successful war government is showing a willingness to work with all stakeholders; with all anti-corruption forces, including civil society, political parties, states and local governments. This is the way it can work,” and added;
“It may have taken sometime for the federally-financed anti-corruption spotlight to shine on the states, given how terribly wrong things had been in the past but the real shame of it is in the fact that citizens aren’t still demanding accountability in their states …
Borrowing and Spending plan, but…
The package can be called federally-controlled borrowing and spending measures for the states or simply, how states could access N90 billion loans. On this, checks publicly listed by Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun included: “Publishing audited annual financial statements within nine months of the financial year end; and publishing state budget online annually.”
Others were: “Introduction and compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS); quarterly online publication of budget performance; setting up realistic and achievable targets to improve Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) and implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).”
Pain of implementation
These are fantastic measures; still, the catch remains the question of monitoring/enforcement. Take the IGR, a crucial platform in these difficult times in the states: which governor in Nigeria today can claim to tell the gospel truth about actual IGR earnings of his state? None!
Take the TSA policy, a huge success as a direct federally-implemented programme: How it will be engineered and executed in the states will be interesting to watch, especially now that the 2016 budget is coming into operation and contractors are moving into some sites.
How about other avenues for governors to siphon money – like misuse and diversion of specialized public funds? Former Plateau State Governor, Mr. Joshua Dariye, now a Senator, was impeached in 2006 for misusing his state’s share of the federal Ecological Fund.
How, for example, will the role of contractors as fronts and agents for politicians, in particular state governors be scrutinized? How about other avenues for governors to siphon money – like misuse and diversion of specialized public funds? Former Plateau State Governor, Mr. Joshua Dariye, now a Senator, was impeached in 2006 for misusing his state’s share of the federal Ecological Fund.
Adeosun also specified states that, “have to clean-up their ghost workers; set-up efficiency units, reduce their recurrent expenditure, publish their accounts and also publish their budgets.”
Corruption in States and LGs
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo enacted the Public Procurement Act to prevent corruption in the states. The Due Process Office in the Presidency came on stream along with a body like Nigeria Extractive Industries Initiative (NEITI) to monitor/oversight. Of course, politician ensured they were stymied.
Strengthening of local councils’ finances was constitutionally made nonsense of, when funds for them from the Federation Account were routed through their states. Governors routinely siphon the funds putting the councils into acute dysfunction.
In view of this, and many other grounds, the 2014 National Conference recommended that LGs be phased out; states to create and manage any number they deemed okay. The report died on arrival. So, which way?