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Fiscal discipline should start from federal government

by Business News Report


Last week the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, told viewers of Channels TV that if Nigeria is to achieve sustainable growth it needs a planned approach to financial discipline, targeted investment and economic diversification. Speaking on the Sunrise programme, Adeosun said: “The government’s Economic Plan is strong on fiscal discipline, because people know we need to get our country working.  And to do that we need to do three things: get the country’s spending in check with firm financial controls, raise money for targeted investment in much needed infrastructure; and see us diversify the economy from a damaging dependence on oil.”

It is a known fact that nations need to plan their development and remain consistent with it. Nigeria government has relegated planning to the background. In the last twenty years, the government has run the affairs of the nation on trial and error policies. Nigeria federal political actors are afraid of their shadow and talk with their tongues in their check. They for political reasons and advantage they get from it turn economic truth upside down. They have made Nigeria economy a rental economy.

The minister of Finance may be concerned with development within the economy and willing to take the needed steps to make a difference, but will those who brought her into government allow her? Has the minister ever consider the fact that it is not in the place of the federal government to tell states to account for the resources they have but it is the states that make up the federation that should ask the federal government to render account on how it has managed the nation’s commonwealth it has appropriated to itself.

Has the federal government published its own account in the last ten years? Why will a kettle call the pot black.

When Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala came into government she made attempt at publishing federal allocation to the various tier of government. Since her departure the practice has stopped. The thing for Adeosun to do is published the federation allocation account either monthly or quarterly. She should go a step further by publishing how the federal government spends it annual budget detailing every kobo spent. She should equally tell the nation how much is voted for security and how it is spent. By so doing, the federal government will send a strong message to states. There must be a legislation at the federal and state level that makes it mandatory for all tier of government in the country to publish their audited account. This will enable the Nigeria people to have access to income and expenditure of the government.

As it is today, Nigerian politicians at all level of government see their government revenue as their ATM. Arresting corruption in Nigeria is about openness and transparency in governance. From every perspective, corruption or corrupt practices has to do with fraudulent activity especially siphoning of funds that are meant for the general populace for one’s aggrandisement only. Right from the beginning, corruption has been a vermin that has been killing and discouraging Nigeria from moving up or welcoming new innovations.

From historical point of view, Nigeria governments had in the hands of those who only care for themselves, putting aside the yearnings of the entire populace. Gone are the days when merit, ability, honesty and transparency has meaning in Nigeria government, and this was then actually helping the country to move up. The likes of Pa Awolowo, Dr. Azikwe, Ahmadu Bello, Tarfawa Balewa, General Murtala Muhammed, Tunde Idiagbon (all of blessed memory) would never be forgotten in the history of Nigeria for being leaders with proven records of achievement.

After these great people, what we have are the hungry politicians, I-care-for-myself leaders, who are actually opportune to beat the helms of affairs. The type of politicians in Nigeria political arena are bounce of criminals, crooks who have in one way or the others, indulged in mischievous activities. There is no wonder, therefore, why crime, corruption, poverty, crime and religion violence have become the fastest growing industries in Nigeria

The ongoing investigation into arms deal and other government parastatals and departments has shown clearly that the federal government is purse the main fountain where corruption takes its source. Spokesperson of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, has said that he is ready to return the N400 million received from the office of the National Security Adviser during the Jonathan’s administration. This was made available in a statement by his lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN). Recall that the PDP spokesperson is being tried for allegedly receiving N400 million of government arms money. There are other high profile cases of corruption being investigated by the EFCC that space will not permit motioning.

It is absolutely true that federal, State and local governments have key roles in diversifying Nigeria’s economy. It has to be a partnership not a master servant relationship. The federal government must see States as strong partners in diversifying the Nigerian economy away from oil and getting Nigeria working again. This should get states and local government buying in not an imposition for it to work. The language of Nigerian politicians at all levels should now be about improving accountability and transparency, increasing public revenue, effective expenditure, improving public financial management and managing debt sustainability. This is what will make Nigeria great again.




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