In a fresh initiative to enthrone greater transparency in government business, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to publish daily financial statements of federal government’s transactions.
The president, in far away Rwanda, also identified corruption and internal conflicts within the African region as the major challenges that should be tackled in a bid to actualise the 60-year dream of a regionally integrated Africa.
The president made the statement just as the Chairman of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resources Centre, and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), accused the United States, the United Kingdom and other capitalist countries of being the propellers of corruption by politicians in Nigeria for their own selfish gains.
At the just concluded launch of the new Financial Transparency Policy/Open Treasury Portal, Buhari gave the directives on the publication of daily financial transactions of the government which is designed to give the citizenry access to information on fiduciary matters, improve accountability and transparency in public financial management.
The policy/portal compels daily statements from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) giving summary flows in and out of the treasury with a breakdown of agencies responsible.
Buhari, who was represented at the launch by the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, directed the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, to henceforth ensure the publication of daily inflows and outflows of MDAs.
His administration, he stated “has committed to full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 so that government-held-data-sets can be availed and used by the media and the public at large. All MDAs are required to promptly respond to additional requests for information beyond what is published.
“With these reports, the treasury will publish payments of at least N10 million, while all MDAS must publish payments above N5 million made out of all public funds under their purview.”
Furthermore to the directives, Buhari added that the information “must include the MDA responsible, the beneficiary, the purpose and amount of each payment,” adding that “accounting officers are responsible for providing answers to any questions from the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their charge.”
Buhari added that all MDAS must publish monthly budget performance reports.
These reports, he noted, must include performance of the budget by various dimensions, including MDAs, functions and economic activities performed by all federal government agencies.
These reports, he stressed, must be ready within seven days after the end of the month.
The president also directed the AGF to “publish monthly fiscal accounts detailing fiscal performance of the federation, including receipts from all the collection agencies and payments out of the Federation Account.”
He directed that the publication must be done within 14 days after the end of the month.
Buhari equally directed that the AGF and all accounting officers of MDAs “must publish quarterly financial statements for government as a whole and for individual MDAS respectively. These must be published within a month after the end of the quarter.”
The AGF must also publish Annual General Purpose Financial Statements while all public sector entities are required to publish statements for their individual entities.
These statements must be prepared following International Public Sector Accounting Standards and must be ready within a month after the end of the first quarter of the following year, the president stated.
According to him, public officers should act in the awareness of the reality that information about their fiduciary responsibilities and actions will be easily accessed by not only law enforcement agencies but also the general public.
And to the contractors and other service providers to the government, The president urged them to take note saying; “any payment you receive from the public purse will be published. Ensure you collect public money for legitimate purposes if not, it will not take long before it is known.”
The new policy, a brainchild of the OAGF, according to the president, has to be implemented in order to achieve the cementing of government’s commitment to improving governance and supplementing the recently launched Whistle-blower policy and equipping the general population with the tools they need to report financial wrongdoing.
To enable the implementation of the policy, the online portal, www.opentreasury.gov.ng, was activated yesterday for all MDAs to publish all the information required by the policy and for immediate access by all Nigerians.