By Obinna Chima
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) yesterday unveiled its 2019 Accountability Index (ICAN-AI) Report which showed that Kaduna State maintained its previous year’s ranking as the best state in terms of accountability in the country.
Enugu State emerged the second best state in terms of accountability in the 2019 index, which was an improvement from the seventh position the state attained the previous year. Enugu state was closely followed by Jigawa, Niger, Kwara, Plateau, Kogi, Kano, Ondo states, in that order.
Presenting the report during a hybrid event, ICAN’s Chairman Steering Committee, Zakaria Muhammed, said Kaduna emerged the best state in terms of accountability with 72.7 percent; Enugu with 58.2 percent and Jigawa with 55.9 percent.
On the other hand, Imo, Adamawa and Edo states were the last three states on the list. While Edo scored 15.1 per cent; Adamawa had 16.3 per cent and Imo 16.5 per cent.
In her keynote address during the public presentation, President of ICAN, Dame Onome Adewuyi, pointed out that in 2017, the ICAN-AI was launched as a mechanism for assessing the level of accountability and quality of public finance management practices across the three tiers of government in Nigeria.
According to her, the initiative was born out of the commitment to serve the public interest as well as to support the institute’s work in promoting accountability, transparency, accuracy and integrity in the Nigerian economy over the past 55 years.
“I wish to inform this esteemed audience that the 2019 ICAN-AI report was initially scheduled to be presented publicly in March 2020. The plan was disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and led to the lockdown of most economies across the world.
“The outbreak of the pandemic, with its great toll on public finances, has made it even more urgent for countries to develop a more robust assessment framework for their Public Financial Management systems.
“The need for an effective and efficient PFM system is also underscored by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number Sixteen (SDG 16) that emphasises Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Achieving these three global desires by the year 2030 as envisaged, requires a dogged commitment accountability and transparency in governance.
“Sequel to the launching of the ICAN-AI in 2017, the institute set up a star-studded Steering Committee consisting of members with proven integrity and first-hand knowledge of Nigeria’s public sector governance. The membership of the Steering Committee was painstakingly selected to comprise Chartered Accountants who have served in the capacity as Accountant-General, Auditor-General, Commissioner for Finance, and Academicians with high pedigrees for seminal research in public sector governance and technology-proficient members who assisted in automating the ICAN-AI, in formulating the ICAN-AI Framework and automating its processes, thereby significantly reducing human interference and errors in the generating the results of the ICAN-AI Index,” she said.
She revealed that the physical and online data collection stages of the index was handled by assessors selected from renowned members of the institute with several years of public sector experience.
Adewuyi said one of the central objectives of the ICAN-AI was the need for governments to publicly make available relevant fiscal information which facilitate the assessment of their PFM practices.
“We are, nonetheless, aware that some governments in the country have not yet fully adopted global best practices in terms of transparency and making relevant financial information publicly available. “Hence, the ICAN-AI field Assessors had to physically visit as many as fifteen government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to obtain information. This is in addition to painstaking desk research they carried out in their efforts towards sourcing public available documents on the various governments’ and other relevant agencies websites.
“Undoubtedly, the ICAN-AI continues to receive encouraging feedback from stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors of the economy as well as from international partners and development agencies. Specifically, the Institute in its development of this pioneering tool has enjoyed immense technical and financial assistance from the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) for which we remain eternally grateful,” she added.
Adewuyi said the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, as well as the various state governments have keyed into the initiative by insisting that relevant officers in their ministries department and agencies to avail our ICAN-AI Assessors of all relevant fiscal information required in developing the Index.
“This positive supports has further deepened the quality and reliability of the ICAN-AI as a trusted and methodical tool for assessing Public Financial Management (PFM) practices in the three tiers of government in Nigeria.
“The multi-stages quality control of the ICAN-AI, supervised by the Steering Committee members, has earned the Index the expected high level of trust among government functionaries and other public sector players. This trust will further increase the confidence of users of the Index for decision-making processes in the private sector and among development partners,” she added.
She said the full report would be made available on the dedicated website – www.ican-ai.icanig.org.