The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched Open Treasury Portal, aimed for the publicity of financial activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
It is part of the Financial Transparency Policy and Implementation Guidelines launched on December 9, 2019, by President Muhammad Buhari. The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) has been directed to publish daily treasury statements of financial inflows and outflows.
Represented by the Minister of State for Niger Delta, Tayo Alasoadura, Buhari said the AGF report will give details of all agencies responsible for each payment. And the transactions reports will provide details of each payment made daily; the beneficiary, purpose and amount of the payment. Moreover, MDAs must publish details of payments above N5 million.
“The Transparency Policy approved by the Federal Executive Council requires that the Accountant General of the Federation must publish a Daily Treasury Statement which will provide information about what came into the national purse and what went out every single day,” he said.
He also disclosed that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), and all MDAs are to publish monthly budget performance report, seven days to the end of every month. And that will include all economic activities, and other functions performed by them.
“My administration pledged to Nigerians that we will work towards changing the way we do business. We promised that we will improve revenue collection as well as spending through better systems,” he added.
The directive mandated the OAGF to publish monthly fiscal accounts within 14 days of the end of the month, detailing the fiscal performance of the federation in terms of revenue receipts from all collecting agencies and payments out of the Federation Account.
In addition to annual general purpose financial report, the OAGF is required to publish a quarterly consolidated unaudited financial statement of the Federal Government within a month of a the end of the quarter.
The audited financial statements for the federal government and all public sector entities are to be published within a month of the end of the first quarter of the following year.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who also embraced the occasion, said the full implantation of the programme by all MDAs is expected latest by the end of three months. She urged Nigerians to use the portal to keep themselves informed on the country’s finances, and hold public office holders accountable.
“Nigerians should not only use the information provided by the portal to discuss governance but also use it fight corruption,” she said.
The Treasury Portal has been hailed as a big step in the right direction in the effort of the government to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public fund. The idea was conceived and developed by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
While the development is being applauded, states are encouraged to imitate the example by promoting transparency in their financial transactions. So far, only 10 states have signed up for the Open Government Partnership (OGP), while 26 states have indicated no interest in running a transparent government.
OGP was launched in 2011, by former U.S president, Barack Obama, and has since grown into a global coalition for transparent governance. The OGP encourages the implementation of measures that foster good governance and also bridge the gap between citizens and the government.
Therefore, it is perceived as a sign of unclean closet for states governments that have refused to sign up to the open governance initiative and choose to keep their finances from the public eye. The secrecy in state government’s activities has been noted as the principal technique used by state governors and lawmakers to embezzle state funds.
The public are therefore left uninformed and totally oblivious of how public fund is being utilized. The Open Treasury Portal has consequently, beckoned the responsibility of accountability to state governors and lawmakers.