Posted by Oluyinka Akintunde, Abuja on
Pundits say that democracy thrives on public trust and confidence by the electorate in those who govern them. But in Nigeria, there appears to be a devaluation of this dictum and over the years, the public has come to view all those in government as less-than-honest.
Pundits say that democracy thrives on public trust and confidence by the electorate in those who govern them. But in Nigeria, there appears to be a devaluation of this dictum and over the years, the public has come to view all those in government as less-than-honest. Said Mike Ogbuagwu, who runs an eatery, Mikails’ Place, in Ilasamaja, Lagos, “They are all crooked.”
Pronounced with finality, his views echo a general disdain by the electors for those who hold public office.
Maria Ajetunmobi, a computer operator with Technique Services Limited, Oshodi, Lagos, stated that accountants in public service should be held responsible for the spate of public sector looting and the continued indictment of highly-placed officials including governors, the latest being the money-laundering saga involving the Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who is being tried in London for allegedly laundering £1.2million.
This perception has not escaped President Olusegun Obasanjo, who in September last year, accused accountants-general of corruption. His reasoning along with that of the ordinary man in the street, is that ministers, governors and other top officials cannot spirit away public funds without the connivance or the incompetence of public sector accountants.
After years of routinely declaring its members’ innocent, the Instittue of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria has, at last, admitted the likelihood of its members colluding with corrupt officials to steal public funds.
The results are too obvious. While bumper revenues and resources are available to government at all levels, the people are poor and lack access to potable water, good hospitals, education and employment opportunities.
Obasanjo, while declaring open the forum of accountants-general in the federation in Abuja, last year, noted that he had continued to receive complaints of corruption and sharp practices and lack of dedication to duties and honesty among public accountants and their accountants-general.
He said, “The usual public outcry is about ineffectiveness, lukewarm attitude towards accountability and transparency and general ineptitude of some of your members in the discharge of their duties. Many of you are yet to submit themselves to the current wave of changes in the spirit of the present economic reform.
“They are still doing the business as usual. They exercise delay in discharge of their job. Under the present reform agenda, all these dysfunctional traits and behaviour must be eliminated completely.”
Exactly a year after, ICAN is raising posers for public sector accountants on the issue of corruption and looting of the state’s treasuries.
The institute on Thursday, September 29, warned its members in the public sector to desist from looting of public treasury or be prepared to face its Disciplinary Panel.
ICAN’s President, Chief Abdul-Lateef Owoyemi, stated this in Minna, Niger State, at the National Training Workshop on Audit Practice and Management in the Public Sector, organised by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
Owoyemi, who decried the feasting by public servants on the nation’s treasury, noted that this had contributed to the slow growth of the country.
He said, “There is no doubt that until recently and over the past 30 years, insatiable greed and advantage taking, had been the rule rather than the exemption throughout the public services in Nigeria. It will be taking too much for granted to assume that members of our institute engaged in the public sector have not been contaminated.
“Yet, the country is no longer in the mood to tolerate corruption on the part of public office holders, for any reason whatsoever. If you have been joining your colleagues within and outside your establishment, to share juicy contracts amongst yourselves, issue fake stores receipt certifications, take commissions from banks for placement of funds at ridiculous rates and so forth, you must stop it immediately.”
“How many of you have assets for which you cannot openly account for, or finance the education of your children in expensive schools abroad, from sources you dare not disclose? Of course, you may assume you will not be caught, but be rest assured that if you ever get caught, and our institute becomes aware of your misdeed, you can be rest assured that you will be in for an experience you will never forget in your life,” he added.
Owoyemi advised the public sector accountants against engaging in fake due process, contracts rip-off, ghost worker vouching, fake stock receipting, advantage placements and other malpractices and abuse of office.
In an interview with our correspondent in Lagos, the Accountant- General of the Federation, Mr. Ibrahim Dankwambo, said his office had begun a detailed and comprehensive review of the operations, procedures and work processes of the treasury to prevent its abuse through corrupt practices.
According to him, the review of the treasury procedures and processes would help the treasury to fit into the ongoing reform programme of the Federal Government.
He said, “We are reviewing some of the procedures to ensure that as much as possible bureaucracy is reduced in the operation of finances of government, while also ensuring that integrity is not compromised.”
“The most important thing is how to reduce corruption. The management, at its last meeting, agreed that as far as the treasury is concerned now, there must be zero-tolerance for corruption in the OAGF and public finance management.”
According to him, “We assumed that we are starting from beginning and all of us have agreed that corruption must be eliminated from the way we run our operations. We are working on the detailed modalities, which essentially is reducing the waiting time normally in processing some of the things that are in the Treasury,” said Dankwambo.
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