NEITI launches anti-corruption survey to enhance governance

Stakeholders at the launch of the survey

The Nigeria Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has launched an anti-corruption and governance initiatives survey aimed at improving public finance management systems and governance in all tiers of government.

The Mapping and Scoping Survey of Anti-corruption and Governance Initiatives in Public Finance Management (PFM) Systems in Nigeria, was carried out by the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), NEITI.

TUGAR, a research, monitoring and evaluation unit, was set up by the Federal Government to respond to the need for a rigorous approach to policymaking, based on empirical data collection, analysis, in-depth corruption diagnostic and related governance issues.

Chairman of NEITI Board and National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG), Olusegun Adeyemi, while launching the report on Wednesday, in Abuja, underscored the need for evidence-based policymaking in governance, particularly in PFM.

Adeyemi described the PFM system as an efficient engine room of governance which encompassed budgetary process, public procurement, accounting, auditing standards, civil and administrative methods, risk management systems, revenues and expenditure and corrective actions for non-compliance.

He said the survey was benchmarked against three critical anti-corruption Conventions ratified by Nigeria: The UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC); African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC); and ECOWAS Protocol Against Corruption.

Measuring performance

Adeyemi explained that “Measuring our national laws, standards and policies against these important instruments show us a mirror through which we view our performance and standing, in order to effect change.

“The scope of the survey which commenced in 2009 through 2016 covered the federal and the states in four phases. Phase one in 2009 include six states from each geo-political zone in the country.

“The states considered are Kano, Lagos, Bauchi, Enugu, Rivers and Plateau, while phase two in 2012 included 10 states: Delta, Kaduna, Adamawa, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Imo, Niger, Sokoto and Ondo.

“Phase three in 2013 included 10 more states: Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Taraba and Yobe, while phase four in 2016 included 10 remaining states: Abia, Gombe, Kebbi, Kwara, Osun, Edo, Oyo, Borno, Akwa Ibom and Zamfara.

“The current report which was commenced in 2020 updated the findings, and reports on new laws and policies instituted from the time of the last survey till now.”

Resource utilisation

The Executive Secretary, NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, while noting that the report aimed at looking at how resources could be prudently managed, said it captured all Federal Government’s reform initiatives, including ongoing reforms in extractive industries.

He, however, gave the assurance that NEITI would study the report carefully to see how stakeholders including civil society organisations could utilise the report for greater impact.

Head, TUGAR, Lilian Ekeanyanwu, recalled that in 2020 the unit carried out a review and update of mapping of anti-corruption initiatives at all tiers of governance, including Gap Analysis of laws aimed at fighting corruption.

She noted that the study showed some improvement at the state level while improvement at the federal level was quite significant which included improvement in the legal and regulatory framework and Open Government Partnership (OGP).

She listed other improvements as Open Contracting Data Standard, Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS, Treasury Single Account (TSA), Bank Verification Number (BVN) and Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System among others.

TUGAR was set up by the Federal Government to respond to the need for a rigorous approach to policy-making, based on empirical data collection, analysis, in-depth corruption diagnostic and related governance issues.

Implementation challenges

The study highlights challenges, especially at the state level, which include minimal proactive dissemination of PFM information, issuance of periodic reports on the risk of corruption by few states and minimal enforcement and sanctions on audit queries.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab  Ahmed, argued that the importance of an effective public financial management system cannot be overemphasised, particularly in the post-COVID 19 recovery era.

She said it was to sustainably address the challenge of domestic revenue mobilisation, and critical to continuously monitor corruption risks and strengthen the implementation of anti-corruption initiatives in the PFM system.

She said: “This is because corruption, when left unchecked, weakens the integrity of public finance and economic management systems, compromises revenues and expenditure management and ultimately erodes the social contract with citizens.

“To ensure a more efficient and effective PFM system, the aforementioned notable improvements in Federal and State laws and policies must be sustained and implemented.

“There is the need to continue to improve access to information on PFM processes as well as citizens’ engagement and participation and attendant transparency in the budget process.

“There is also a need to improve on periodic budget performance reports in order to evaluate progress and make necessary adjustments.”

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