SIXTEEN months into the President Muhammadu Buhari regime (which peddles a robust anti-corruption profile), high revenue-earning Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government are yet to make public the details of their earnings, expenditures and contributions to the national till to promote transparency and accountability.
The past governments of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, at the behest of former Minister of Finance and Head of the Presidential Economic Team, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, routinely published revenues allocated to the three tiers of government. However, they stopped short of causing the plum revenue-earning agencies of the Federal Government to disclose what they earned and spent.
Because this lack of disclosure reportedly led to billions of dollars worth of revenue accruable to the Federation Account not making it to the federal coffers, former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governors, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Professor Charles Soludo, alleged that billions of dollars “went missing” during the Jonathan regime, though it was a trend that dated down our history and remains so up till date.
A university don, Professor Nasiru Yauri, in a paper entitled: “The Fiscal Crisis and Management of Budget Deficits in Nigeria” at the 21st Annual Conference of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) in Abuja, recently called on the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to compel the MDAs to publish their accounts not later than three months into every year. Our own view is that such publications should be carried out every quarter.
Some of these MDAs include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Board (NIMASA), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), among others.
We are aware that the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit of NNPC instituted by the Jonathan regime frowned at the opacity in the financial dealings of the NNPC and called for more transparency.
Unless these revenue agencies make their records public, the allegations of “missing billions”, which marred the Jonathan regime, will continue to shadow even the Buhari regime. The quick penchant of every regime to post their trusted cronies to man these resource-rich MDAs has not stopped, and unless their records are made public our anti-corruption efforts will only be seen as being superficial.
The state and local governments as well as members of the public have the right to know how much these MDAs are earning and spending in their operations, and how much remitted to the federal treasury.
We agree with Professor Yauri that the FRC must act on the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 and compel the MDA’s to publish their accounts periodically for the benefit of the public.