Nigeria News

Revenue Loss: Committee Moves against Defaulting Agencies

Apart of measures to address the reoccurring controversies over oil revenue accruing to the Federation Account, the National Conference Committee on Public Finance and Revenue Generation has proposed that government should ensure that all revenue monitoring agencies are represented at every crude oil loading terminal.
Also at Monday's siting, the Committee on Religion failed to agree in concrete terms on how to streamline government involvement in religious affairs.
Ahead of the Monday deadline for the submission of it's report, the Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance and former governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Adamu Aliero, who spoke to THISDAY, said his committee recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of resources of the federation account, a provision should be made in the constitution for the separation of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and that of the Federal Government.
"We have also recommended that for transparency and accountability in the management of resources of the federation account, there should be separation of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and that of the Federal Government,” he said.
Alero said that under the proposal, whatever comes into the Federation Account should be administered by the Accountant-General of the Federation, who is to be accountable to the three tiers of governments: federal, state and local governments, whereas the Accountant-General of the Federal Government should be accountable to the central government for only the revenues due to it.
He said the committee believes that the measure will help restore absolute confidence amongst the different tiers of government and instill more transparency in the revenue management process.
On the issue of motivation of staff responsible for collecting revenues, he said the committee had recommended that a certain percentage of the revenue collected by the agencies be given to them as part of welfare package if an agency was able meet a set target.
He said the committee frowned at the agencies, which keep revenues generated by them or those who lodge it into the federal government’s account, saying that they are short-changing the rest of the tiers of government, especially the state and local governments.
The former governor who cited section 162 of the constitution stated that whatever was generated by all agencies should go into the federation account to be shared on the basis of existing revenue allocation formula.
"We have recommended a number of measures that will help us enhance revenue generation in the country, generally whether at the federal or state level. We have looked at all the leakages leading to the loss of revenue and recommended a number of measures that should be taken to address such leakages.
"For instance, oil theft from where the country losses 300,000 barrels per day, we have proposed to government that there should be increased monitoring of the pipelines and there should be measures put in place at every terminal so that every agency will be represented and have an idea of how crude oil is being loaded into any vessel. Once you have the information it can be circulated, he said.
Meanwhile, members of  the Committee on Religion yesterday sang discordant tunes as they tried to tie-up the contentious issue of streamlining the relationship between government and religion in the country.
The first sign of disagreement came when some of the delegates rejected the tentative report prepared by the secretary of the committee, having failed to give a good account of members’ contributions to the debate.
Although the secretary explained that the report was a harmonisation of all the deliberations meant as guidelines to enable members of the committee produce the final report, John Achimuguled the opposition against its acceptance, while imputing foul-play.
Achimugu wondered why the secretary would prepare the report even when members have not agreed on some of the issues like religion.
However, the Co-chairman of the Committee, Bishop Ajakaye frowned at the lack of agreement between the members and while explaining that other committees have gone ahead to submit their reports.
He said the report was just to form the basis of decisions taken since the committee had touched on almost every issue but had not harmonised them even when time was fast running out on the committee.
On the plan to formally adopt the second stanza of the National Pledge as a national prayer, members of the committee expressed divergent opinion with some of them rejecting it.
Two members of the Committee on Religions Prof. Ishaq Oloyede and John Achimugu had argued against the use of the second stanza of the national pledge as a national prayer at state or national functions.
According to Prof. Oloyede, National Anthem serves the purpose of inspiring the citizens towards nationalism, describing prayer as a communication between man and God, while Achimugu believed that religion is a relationship between man and God, which is devoid of the state.
Oloyede said an attempt to turn the National Anthem to a prayer was doing some damage to the poetic finesse of the anthem, saying that in search of a solution to a problem, the country should be cautious not to enter into a bigger problem.
Oloyede said the second stanza of the national pledge was aimed at inspiring the youth and urging the leaders to do what is right for the country, saying that turning it to a prayer amounted to using the anthem for non-anthem purposes just as religion is used for non-religious purposes in Nigeria.
He described religion as a tool for national development, urging Nigerians to see religion for what it is, while admitting that the Committee on Religion had worked more harmoniously contrary to expectations in certain quarters.
Iyoke while supporting the adoption of the National anthem as a national prayer said there was nothing wrong in it.
Another delegate also suggested that the committee should take time to compose a new National prayer for the country as part the interventions by the national conference.
Similarly, the Committee on Political Parties and Electoral Matters, which spent hours debating a proposal for a proportional representation in the legislature, failed to reach consensus.
Olusola Ebisani urged the Committee to jettison the idea since it was not a known practice in presidential system, adding that implementing such a proposal will be difficult and may be capable of further causing conflict among political stakeholders.
A delegate, Modibbo Kawo spoke in support of the idea, saying it will help to stem the crisis generated after elections.
In same vein, a lawyer and civil society activist, Mr. Festus Okoye said the measure would reduce tension since political parties know that they will be part of the administration no matter who wins.
"It will check the present nonsense we experience in some of the Houses of Assembly where one party has the majority, the legislators will wake up and go to Government House waiting for the governor to tell them what do. It makes for inclusive society and broadens the level of representation. What it does is to make everyone a stakeholder,” he submitted.

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