By Juliet Ukanwosu
A report of the mapping and scoping survey of anti-corruption and governance initiatives in public finance management systems in Nigeria has placed Zamfara state in the lead of states with the poorest public finance management system in the country.
The report launched in Abuja on Wednesday by the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR), assessed states against the provisions of five major Public Finance Management (PFM) systems which include Public Procurement Law, Fiscal Responsibility Law, Audit Law, Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Timely Financial Report on revenue and expenditure by the office of the Accountant General. The application of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) as well as citizen’s access to publicly held information and participation in governance and corruption prevention were also taken into consideration.
Zamfara is the only state in the country that failed against all the PFM benchmark as the state have no fiscal responsibility law, no audit law, no financial reporting timeliness, has not signed up to OGP, no FOI law, neither does the state have a public procurement law. The survey found that currently the state’s procurement process is led by a Special Adviser to the Governor.
Extractive360 analysis of the report further shows that Zamfara state is the only state in Nigeria without a public procurement law, and it is one of seven states without a fiscal responsibility law. Others are Enugu, Imo, Kano, Lagos, Oyo and Plateau states.
Zamfara is closely followed by Imo state which has no fiscal responsibility law, no audit law, has not signed up to OGP and does not apply the FOI.
NEITI Board Chairman, Olusegun Adekunle, making his remarks before officially unveiling the scoping report
A more detailed analysis of the report by extractive360 showed that 17 states do not have an audit law, 24 states are yet to sign on to the OGP while seven states are yet to achieve timely financial report on revenue and expenditure. Only six states which include Abia, Adamawa, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna and Kogi states, successfully passed against the five major areas of assessment, having all laws in place.
Speaking during the launch, the Head, TUGAR, Lilian Ekeanyanwu stated that the study highlights challenges especially at the state level which include minimal proactive dissemination of PFM information.
She noted that very few states issue periodic reports on the risks of corruption adding that there is minimal enforcement and sanctions on audit queries in states.
However, she stated that while the survey conducted in 2020 shows some improvements at state levels compared with 2009 and 2016 surveys, improvement at the federal level has been significant, which include OGP, Integrated Personal and Payroll System (IPPS), Treasury Single Account, Bank Verification Number, Open Contracting Data Standard, amongst others.
Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Eecretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), said the report is important in looking at how resources can be prudently managed particularly, at the state level.
Stakeholders displaying the scoping report
Orji added that a look at the country’s revenue sharing formula shows that the federal government takes 52.68percent, states 26.72percent and local governments 20.50percent.
“If you add what the states and LGs take you have 47.22percent of our natural resources. When you look at the TUGAR report you will see all the initiatives that the federal government has put in place to reform financial management. We have seen from the report that there is little effort at the states. That means all the effort the federal government is putting in place is just accounting for half the revenue accruing to the country.
“So we need not ignore what is going at the state level, there must be concerted actions to ensure the states replicate the ongoing efforts at the federal level. The impact of the combined effort should result to reduced poverty especially at the rural communities,” Orji said.
In her keynote address, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on finance and economy, Dr. Sarah Alade, emphasized the importance of continued monitoring of corruption tendencies and strengthening the implementation of anti-corruption initiatives in PFM.
“This is because corruption when left unchecked weakens the integrity of public finance and economic management systems, compromises revenue utilization and ultimately erodes contracts with citizens,” the minister said.