Business - Business & Economy - News - November 18, 2021

How Nigerian govt. can promote anti-corruption at the grassroots, says NEITI Board Chair

Only Zamfara State is yet to pass the Public Procurement and Fiscal Responsibility laws

PICTURE: L-R: Chairman, NEITI Board, Olusegun Adeyemi, with NEITI Executive Secretary, Ogbonnaya Orji (3nd from right); Sarah Alade, Ministry of Finance; Lialian Ekeanyanwu, Head TUGAR, and others at the launch of the Mapping and Scoping Survey Report on Anti-corruption and Governance Initiatives in Public Finance Management Systems in Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.

By Bassey Udo

The Federal Government must continue to encourage the States and Local Government Councils to reproduce ongoing reforms in their public finance management systems if the fight against corruption and poverty alleviation is to yield results at the grassroots, the Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Olusegun Adeyemi, has said.

Adeyemi spoke in Abuja as Chair at the official launch of the Mapping and Scoping Survey Report on Anti-corruption and Governance Initiatives in Public Finance Management Systems in Nigeria.

The Chairman said NEITI would continue to do its best to promote the tenets of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries and other sectors of the economy to ensure the country enjoyed the benefits of the natural resources endowments in Nigeria.

“Transparency and Accountability are supposed to follow a single stream that flows across all the tiers of government. If the Federal Government is making tremendous progress in its adherence to the principles of transparency and accountability in its business, there is no reason why the sub-nationals should not do the same, to ensure the benefits trickled down to the grassroots,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Orji Obgonnaya Orji, commended TUGAR for the efforts invested in the review and the publication of the report, saying it would go a long way to strengthen the process to rid the country of all corruption and ensure the wellbeing of the people.

He said NEITI would continue to do what it is doing towards entrenching transparency and accountability in all facets of the economy and society.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government was committed to ensuring the ongoing reforms in the public finance management system were embraced by the others tiers of government so that the country could progress in the same direction.

The minister who was represented by the Senior Adviser on Finance and Economy, Sarah Alade, commended the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption reforms (TUGAR) for the review, saying this would guide the Federal in identifying the gaps in its anti-corruption campaigns in its determination to sustain it.

In her presentation, the Head of TUGAR, Lilian Ekeanyanwu, said the agency is a research, monitoring and evaluation unit by the government to respond to the need for empirical data collection and analysis on country specific reviews on corruption and related governance issues.

Ekeanyanwu listed the works of TUGAR to include conducting comprehensive diagnostics studies, deep analytical work, monitoring and evaluation of anti-corruption and governance initiatives, construction of governance indicators and developing policy briefs on various governance issues for informing policymakers.

She said TUGAR commenced its nationwide environmental scan and scope study in 2009 to map anti-corruption initiative and actors at all tiers of government in the country.

The studies, she said, assessed initiatives at the Federal level and the public finance management systems and related anti-corruption governance initiatives in the 36 states, including budget management; fiscal and revenue management; public procurement; accounting, recording, and auditing as well as citizen access to publicly held information and participation in governance and corruption prevention.

While the studies revealed some improvement at State level, She said the improvement at the federal level has been very significant, particularly in the areas of legal and regulatory framework; Open Government Partnerships; Open Contracting Data Standards and Treasury Single Account.

Other areas included Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System; Bank Verification Number; Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System.

At the state level, Ekeanyanwu said the improvements were majorly in the areas of legal and regulatory framework, with a few states passing the Public Procurement laws, fiscal responsibility laws, and some joining the open government partnership.

Details of the findings from the reviews on State Report showed that only Zamfara has not yet passed the Public Procurement Law out of the 36 States of the federations and the Federal Capital Territory.

She said this is a marked improvement from the nine states that did not do so in 2016.

Again, Zamfara was among the seven states yet to pass the Fiscal Responsibility law in their domains. The other states include Enugu, Imo, Kano, Lagos, Oyo, and Plateau.

Regardless, the situation today, she said, is still better than what obtained in 2016 when 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory, did not pass the law.

In terms of financial audit law, the report said 17 states have so far passed the law since 2016, while 25 states have signed on to the Open Government Partnership.

On the timely financial report on revenue and expenditure by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation between 2017 and 2019, Ekeanyanwu said the report named Anambra, Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Imo, Kano and Zamfara as the defaulting states on timely reporting, submission of reports to the Offices of the Accountant and Auditor-General of the Federation.

She enjoined the federal government to encourage the other tiers of the government to embrace the reforms to ensure the country was progressing in the same direction at the same time.

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