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Kogi Overhauls Revenue System, to Begin TSA

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Revenue system
  • Kogi Overhauls Revenue System, to Begin TSA

With recommendations for adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the establishment of a legally sound and operationally efficient post-autonomy process for the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Kogi State is set to rejig its revenue system.

The move, which is part of efforts to fight corruption and wastes in public finance management, has already received commendations from the state government as the Adhoc Committee on Fiscal Responsibility submitted its report.

In recent times, the need to engage professional accountants and financial experts in charting a sustainable path in states’ revenue drive, management and plugging of loopholes against corruption has been canvassed at various levels.

A nine-member committee, led by a professor of Public Sector Accounting at Kogi State University, Steven Ocheni, while delivering the report to the state governor, said the members had painstakingly sourced and collated vital information, which led to the various recommendations in the report.
Other members of the Committee are Asiwaju Idris Ashiru, Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development; Oloruntoba Kehinde, Commissioner for Budget and Planning; Momoh Jibrin , State Accountant-General; and Okala Yakubu, State Auditor-General.

The committee still included Alhaji Ahmed Ododo, Auditor-General for Local Government; Alhaji Bako Mohammed, Ag. Permanent Secretary (Administration), Secretary to the State Government’s Office; Mallam Sairu Mohammed, Ag. Permanent Secretary (Establishment), Office of the Head of Service; and Alhaji Yakubu Oseni, Chairman, Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, while receiving the report, said it was meant to reposition the state’s fiscal policies, enthrone transparency and fight corruption, as the terms of reference include the establishment of a legally sound and operationally efficient TSA; efficient Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS); and autonomous revenue board.

He assured that the sound operational guidelines for prudent management of the state’s revenue and financial discipline with a view to total elimination of wastages, drastic reduction in outgoings and rapid increase in revenue generation during this administration and beyond would be implemented.

Already, the committee has recommended for adoption the approach and methodology of Lagos State Pension Commission.To arrive at this, Ocheni said that the committee constituted three sub-committees, which had interactions with the representatives of Kogi State Pension office, representatives of Pension Commission and Pension Fund Administrators.

Again, it engaged the Organised Labour Union and other stakeholders in a Town-Hall meeting to interact on the implementation of the scheme.“We recommend Kogi State Pensions Commission for both the state and Local government pensioners, adopting the administrative set up of the Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC) for convenience and cost effectiveness,” he said.

He however, said the success of the scheme requires a huge investment in ICT to enable state and Local government pensioners’ records to be fully automated and a database maintained for constant update.

Corroborating the need for investment in technology to achieve success in the new drive, the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs. Ayoade Arike, noted that the implementation of TSA would be be a major issue as it is about online communication.
“I noticed that the internet level in Kogi State is not superb. We need a strong internet facility to aid the TSA,’’ she said.The committee suggested an execution of an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) from the state to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for deduction of pension contributions at source.

“Technocrats experienced in pension and financial matters be appointed to man the State Pension Commission. The state government should establish a Pension Transition Agency to service the Old Pension Liabilities with a reasonable monthly allocation to be determined by the Actuary, sufficient enough to defray the outstanding pension liabilities in five years,’’ he said.

As part of the repositioning, there is need for a new bill for a legal backing for the autonomy of the Board of Internal Revenue Service to be passed by Kogi State House of Assembly.

For effective performance, the state Internal Revenue Service is to have five Directorates, each headed by an Executive Director, who is a professional tax practitioner and member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) experienced in taxation and management.

The Directorates are: Tax Operations; Compliance; Enforcement; Corporate Services; and Secretary to the Internal Revenue Service.While it also recommended the immediate adoption and implementation of the TSA and the contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) for Kogi State Public Service, there was a pre-qualification of banks, with eight eligible to be used for the policy.

The banks are Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Skye Plc, and United Bank for Africa. By the report, the would now establish a Project Team/Secretariat to be headed by the State Accountant-General, made up of Director Treasury, Director Budget, Staff from Main Accounts in the State Auditor-General’s Office, Inspectorate Unit, Board of Internal Revenue, Director, State Auditor-General’s Office, and the Bursar, Kogi State University representing tertiary institutions.

“The team has a primary responsibility for the coordination of all pre-implementation, implementation and post-implementation programmes required for the successful take-off of the State Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) scheme.

“The committee recommends that after the first three months of operations, a policy of No-Pin, No-Pay should be applied to ensure all and sundry comply for the success of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS),’’ he said.

Upon implementation of the report, the retirement benefits of certain category of public office holders may be treated in line with the statutory requirements of such benefit schemes, like the Governors and other State Political Office Holders.

Addressing the governor, the Don said the state’s “New Direction Agenda,” which emphasises public accountability, transparency and financial discipline in treasury management, is an affirmation of the administration’s determination to reposition the State Civil Service.

“It is therefore, our belief, that these recommendations, if implemented by your administration, will launch the state on the path aimed at bringing to the door steps the long expected dividends of democratic governance,’’ he said.

Responding, the state Governor, said he was proud of the performance of committee, as well as the work done by the members.“We set up the Adhoc Committee on Fiscal Responsibility to advise us on ways to manage our scarce resources- prioritise and put to use judiciously,” he said.

He pointed out that his administration is much in a hurry to get the committees working because time was against the government, assuring that he was not just setting up the committees, but has the political will to implement to the letter the recommendation of those committees.

“We set up a committee to look into the state’s bloated workforce and uncovered that over N1.3 billion was being paid monthly to ghost workers. We are already implementing certain recommendations that were adhoc in nature.

“We want to stop the menace of armed robbery and kidnapping in the state. We reduced the level of insecurity in the state from what we met it to half. Before this committee comes up with its report, we had implemented 50 per cent of the report,’’ the governor said.

Assuring that the recommendations of a sound committee like this would not be swept under the carpet, he warned that no corrupt official would be harboured and those who want to manipulate the system of TSA and test our might, will face law.

 

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari

In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”

Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.

This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.

He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.

Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.

The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.

“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.

“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).

“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.

“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”

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In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force

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EFCC

Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.

The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.

The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.

As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.

It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.

Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).

“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.

“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.

“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.

Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.

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Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics

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A quest to understand the interconnection between politics and economic performance in a democratic society motivated Richard von Weizacker fellowship and research study at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, Germany, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili said on Wednesday.

She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.

Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.

She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.

“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.

In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.

Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”

According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.

“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.

“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.

She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.

“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.

“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.

“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”

To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”

She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”

Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.

“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.

Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”

According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.

In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”

While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.

Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”

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