Buhari Wants Accountability Standards Raised in Public, Private Sectors


• Says judges, lawyers should answer for prolonged court cases
•Amosun: Accountability necessary for Nigeria to develop
James Emejo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday urged public officials and professional bodies in the country to raise their standards of accountability in order to “get things done.”

He said almost every problem in the society has a connection to the question of accountability, adding that this explained the difficulty in getting things done partly “because public officials are hardly held to account for their stewardship.”

Buhari said though the concept of accountability ought to determine promotion in public officials, this had not been the same.
The president said holding public officers to account for what they do will be key in “ensuring that we are able to bring the development that we promised to bring.”

Specifically, he said the same applies in the administration of justice, arguing that those who handle public resources, even private resources, should be associated with a performance index to make them more responsible.

He said: “If you look at the environment, sometimes, the administration of justice processing cases is so slow. A lot of people in the local and international business community complain that we can’t resolve a case within a reasonable time, it goes on and on; and the problem with that is that it slows business and discourages

investments because you can hold up major decisions because the court has not made a pronouncement.”
Speaking in Abuja at the opening of the 46th Annual Accountants’ Conference, themed: ‘Accountability Now Nigeria’ which was organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Buhari said: “And I think these are some of the issues we need to look at and the way to go is to hold those who administer justice to account.”

Represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, he said the administration of justice was a public resource and judges and lawyers should be held to account for processing cases out of a reasonable time.

He said delayed cases had made it impossible for the administration of justice to deliver the results that are required for everybody’s use.

Meanwhile, the accounting profession was not also spared as the president urged them raise the bar of accountability, adding that major audit firms had collapsed partly because of the actions or inactions of accountants.

He said if things were to be well scrutinised in details, “many times, accountants will be found wanting in not being careful enough in their financial judgment.
Also speaking at the occasion, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said the role of accountants could not be overemphasised as the country struggles to exit the current recession.

He said how quick the country gets out of the recession depended on the cooperation of the accounting profession, adding that the issue of accountability should be all-encompassing.

President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Ms. Oliver Kirtley, said it was encouraged to see steps being taken to promote accountability in the country and vowed the support of the International community in that direction.

Nevertheless, ICAN President, Deacon Titus Soetan, said this year’s theme stemmed from the realisation that globally, governments are entrusted with the management of public resources which are mainly derived from taxation, created wealth and other endowed natural resources.

He said the public expected government to effectively manage such resources to deliver a wide range of services.
According to him, “Government can only manage resources effectively and achieve the type of results intended with effective and accountable institutions and systems.

An effective government is one that establishes an enabling environment for the delivery of high-quality and cost effective public services and the eradication of poverty in a manner that involves accountability to its citizens through both core state functions and processes.”

In another development, Amosun has said accountability is a major deficit in Nigeria.
Amosun, who spoke with State House Correspondents after meeting with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said accountability was very key in the development of the nation.

He said: “Everybody must be accountable. The major deficit that we have as a nation is that of accountability.”
He said accountability should be the bedrock in government, private sector and even in professional bodies.
“Accountability is not just for the government. It is a collective responsibility. Everybody must place their roles,” he added.

The governor reiterated his earlier position that agriculture remained the best option for the country.
He said:  “It is when we get work for our people that we will get out of this economic challenges we are passing through.

“That is why we are saying all of us should be involved. Micro and small scale enterprises should be encouraged. Young able-bodied men that can work should be encouraged.
We are encouraging our young ones to farm. Whatever we grow, we must process and package. We will market and transport them to the people.”

He attributed the flood ravaging the state to the release of water by the Ogun-Osun River Basin.
He said the river basin did not want the raining season to damage its dam and had to release water.

He said: “When the water is filled up, they will open it. When they open it, of course, the water must go somewhere. That is why every year that they do it, we are hit very hard.
“But we are getting by and I am sure that maybe after about a week or so, the flood will subside.”