By OMOH GABRIEL
Nigeria is a nation where everybody is an expert. Experts in football coaching, experts in financial matters and economy, just name it.
Some months ago, the nation was awash with the fact that about $49.8 billion was not remitted into the federation account. The mere fact that it came from the former CBN governor was enough for it to count as true. Everybody that was anybody in Nigeria wanted to be heard on how to deal with the situation.
Months after, the Senate committee that was raised to investigate the matter submitted the report of its findings with the conclusion that no money was missing but that about $20 billion was yet to be reconciled.
Nigerians since the Chibok unfortunate incidence have pretended that the issue of $49.8 billion un-remitted funds by NNPC has ever occurred.
Why are we a nation of people who take pleasure in talking and not finding a permanent solution to problems before jumping into another? The Senate committee recommended that there should be a periodic and inter-agency reconciliation of the inflow and outflow from the federation account to avoid the annual bickering over the NNPC not making full disclosures of how much it earned on behalf of the nation and shortchanging Nigerians of their legitimate income.
This column had, before the Senate committee recommendation, asked the new CBN governor to set up a machinery to ensure that all revenue- generating ministries, departments and agencies of government meet regularly with the CBN to reconcile the federation account before the Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting.
Such inter-agency meeting will allow each arm of the revenue-generating body to table what it earned, what has been remitted and what is outstanding. This will ensure that no agency is having any backlog of receipts unattended.
The CBN as the banker to the Federal Government is in a good stead to carry out this assignment as it is the body that keeps government fund, local and international.
In the ordinary run of business, account officers on monthly basis undertake bank reconciliation with their bankers to know the true cash position of the company.
Bank reconciliation is undertaken because there may have been cheques drawn by the company to its customers that may have not been presented to the bank, cash payments lodged with the company that may not have been presented to the bank or some customers may have paid into the company’s bank account that are not reflected in the company’s cash ledger among other reasons.
Nigeria as it is today, does not know how much it earns from the various sources of revenue. All the President knows about the nation’s finances is what those handling and manning the various revenue posts want him to know. The process is neither transparent nor open.
This gives room for massive corruption and ripping off of the nation. But the government in an attempt to safeguard the interest of investors, set up the Financial Reporting Council to monitor and regulate the private sector accounting procedure. This council recently alleged that the CBN account is in a shambles and not prepared according to International Financial Reporting Standard.
That was what brought trouble to Lamido Sanusi-led management of the CBN. The question is; why are all ministries, departments and agencies of government at federal, state and local government levels made to render account in IFRS?
Why are Nigerians not insisting that federal revenue be made known to the public? Why is it that government, every year, states how much it intends to spend but never render full account of how much it earned and how it is spent? Are Nigerians not entitled to know?
If this government is serious about fighting corruption, the first place to start is in rendering account to Nigerians of its income and expenditure. It is in preparing its account in an internationally acceptable format. This government must insist that the Nigerian public have the right to know how much came into the nation’s coffers and how the representatives of the people spend the money.
Just like in a company where the board and management give account to shareholders, the elected and non-elected officers of government must give account to the electorate. It is the ordinary Nigerians whose voted were sought by the president, governors and local government chairmen to be elected that are the stakeholders and masters, not the other way round.
Those in position of governance are not the masters; they must regularly give account to ordinary Nigerians. Nigerians must stop talking about everything and doing nothing about anything. Nigerians must stand up for their rights. Government must give the nation a detailed audited account published on regular basis.