By Ndubuisi Francis
A report on Nigeria’s public finance management has advised the federal government to activate Executive Order No. 6 of 2018, which is designed to prevent owners of assets under investigation from conducting transactions on such assets.
The Order seeks to preserve suspicious assets connected with corruption and other relevant offences, by restricting dealings in them in any way until the final determination by a court of competent jurisdiction, of any corruption-related matter against the owners of such assets.
It particularly focuses on Nigerian citizens who are either past or current government officials, politicians and politically-exposed persons.
The report calling for the activation of the order stemmed from a study carried out under the ‘Strategic Partnership –Financing for Development’ project funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in nine countries, including Nigeria.
Anchored by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria, the report titled, ‘Nigeria Public Finance Management Roadmap’, observed that there are clear signals on the need for increased searchlight on Nigeria’s public finance management architecture, as evidenced by at least three recent developments.
It cited the first as the query from the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, to a former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, expressing concern on the performance of the revenue collecting agency.
The second development, it stated, was the expressed position of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the coverage of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll information System (IPPIS) from which the union sought to be excluded for reason of the peculiarity of university administration bordering on autonomy.
According to the report, the third and most recent development was the disquiet expressed by President Muhammadu Buhari over the poor fate of constituency projects annually funded for National Assembly members.
It stated: “With specific reference to the fight against corruption, which undermines effective public financial management given the nature of the country’s corruption and its scale by the privileged elite, the battle can best be strategised and won through coalition-building.
“In the same vein, effect should be given to Executive Order No.6 of 2018 which is designed to prevent the owners of assets under investigation from conducting any transactions on those assets.”
The report also recommended that public sector budgetary system should migrate out of the mundane traditional system to an online, real time-based system, while financial reporting in the public sector should, in line with the integrated system, be real time and digitalised.
“The gains of integrated information systems in the anti-corruption fight and the war against ghost workers should be improved upon by incorporating more transparency into the system.
“All government units should be brought under the TSA (Treasury Single Account) system. The internal control systems being strengthened by the integrated system should be supported by a greater culture of accountability.
“The internal control systems being strengthened by the integrated system should be supported by a greater culture of accountability,” the report recommended.
The report urged states to build databases of taxpayers and institutions, particularly in the informal sector, to provide a baseline for monitoring and implementing tax reforms and setting tax targets.