By John Shiklam
The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has tasked local governments auditors-general
on the need for greater fiscal transparency and accountability.
Speaking at the 25th Annual Conference of Auditors-General of Local Governments on Tuesday in Kaduna, the governor said there cannot be a better time and a greater need for fiscal transparency and accountability than now.
According to him, accountability and transparency are the cornerstone of his governance reforms since he came into office in 2015.
“That is why we implemented the Treasury Single Account in September 2015, and have automated our procurement process, began digitizing the land registry and prohibited cash collection of government revenues,” he said.
He said the state government is also a keen participant in the World Bank-assisted State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS) programme.
According to him, Kaduna State was the first to sign up to the Open Government Partnership “and we have real-time monitoring of our projects all around the state”.
“I am particularly proud to say that Kaduna State was adjudged the best in implementing SFTAS, having completed nine out of 11 key performance indicators,” he added.
El-Rufai said his administration has recorded “steady strides to increase our capacity to collect Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)”, adding that IGR had been raised from N13 billion in 2015 to N44 billion in 2019 without hiking tax rates.
“At this juncture, let me inform you all that in the bid to devolve our accountability and transparency, we promised and ensured that local government areas had full control of their funds.
“Afterward, we conducted local government elections using electronic voting to take democracy to the grassroots.
“So, when you look at the fact that we empowered local government councils to have full control of their funds and conducted elections, we can rightly say we have democratised accountability and transparency.
“For not only are the elected local government officials accountable to the laws and institutions of the land, but they are also accountable to the people, whose mandate they exercise in the first place,” the governor said.
He described the conference with the theme “Attaining Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability through better audit process” as apt, noting that it speaks to a pressing challenge within the public service as a whole to ensure that public resources are properly and judiciously deployed.
El-Rufai said most times, the citizens are fixated only on the centre or at state level, while oblivious of the need to monitor accountability at the grassroots.
“There is every need to seek ways of making our governance and institutions sustainable for us to continue serving our people; providing economic, social and security services.
“The leaner resources which come in must be judiciously utilized, and jealously protected to ensure efficient and effective delivery of our mandates.
“No matter what is done at the federal and state levels, unless they are replicated at the local government levels; we will have a missing link that will continuously weaken the chain.
“For a whole process to be foolproof, the whole chain must be reinforced. You are part of this whole and the people require you to come out of this conference with better knowledge, capability and commitment that will ensure and guarantee a better audit process which will be at the heart of fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability,” El-Rufai said.