When will it be? – The Nation

  • The govt promised to probe revenue generating agencies but is yet to do that months after

One major basis for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari as leader of the country in 2015 was the trust that he would not only block all loopholes through which the national wealth was being siphoned by officials of state, but hold looters to account. It was therefore no surprise when the new Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Professor Is’Haq Oloyede, exposed the magnitude of mismanagement in the agency by turning N8 billion to the treasury last year. The figures are staggering. Between 2011 and 2015, JAMB received an allocation of N12.5 billion and returned about N31 million to the treasury.

In like manner, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has been praised by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, for remarkably improving on the agency’s revenue generating capacity. As a result, the government has decided to probe former chief executives of the two agencies as well as other revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government over how they spent their subventions.

It is disheartening that the AGF had, last September, told stunned Nigerians that, “we only realised about 35 per cent of the N1.3 trillion revenue estimated for 2016. For 2017, it has been lowered to about N807 billion and we are now in the third quarter of the year, but what we have been able to realise to date is about N120 billion. We are now in September, which means we have not even gone half way; we are just hovering around 25 per cent of the estimated revenue for this year as far as internally generated revenue (IGR) is concerned.”

Professor Oloyede and Dr. Dakuku Peterside of NIMASA deserve the kudos they have received, but others should be encouraged to do the same by making them account for their stewardship.  The two men have shown what needs to be done to change the face of governance in the country –  honesty, innovation and efficiency. Indeed, Oloyede said his team decided that, while the examination body is not primarily a revenue generating agency, it should not be revenue wasting either. Thus, it cut out waste through paper testing and improved on computer-based tests. By its performance, the board no longer has to draw fund from the government.

We commend the Federal Government’s decision to look into the finances of other revenue generating agencies, even though it has characteristically failed to do that since last year. It should speed up the process, especially now that the country is contemplating borrowing to fund the 2018 budget. We could cut down on the debts and deficit if only the agencies are more transparent and efficient. As the finance minister pointed out, “the cause of dwindling revenue includes wastage, illegal recruitments, bloated expenses, loans to staff and use of expensive consultants.”

Almost three years into the Buhari administration, the government ought to have overcome such shortcomings, thus returning health to the agencies and the treasury. Since 2016 when the finance ministry promised to send auditors to all ministries, departments and agencies of government, nothing has been heard about the result, nor are we aware of new processes and procedures introduced to save government the huge funds that get siphoned out of the system.

An agency like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), for example, remains a seamy agency. Despite all the promises made by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to plug loopholes, nothing came out of the panels set up to ensure that. Neither has anything been done since 2015 when this government came on board. Yet, state governors and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, continue to lament how NNPC decides what to pay into the Federation Account. It must be pointed out that, without transparency and best corporate governance practices, the country would remain in the hole into which it has sunk.

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