The announcement by President Buhari at a public function to adopt a single treasury accounts for all revenues due to the government and its agencies has continued to elicit controversies from different quarters.
The Treasury Single Account (TSA) is an initiative that should be welcomed by all and economic pundits have argued that these steps are necessary to improve appropriation control and enable efficient cash management. The impunity that permeated the previous administration affected the full implementation of the TSA as funds were loosely spent to finance unproductive ventures with reckless abandon. Corruption and lack of sincerity by the executive has hindered the benefits of the scheme, rather more funds have disappeared under questionable circumstances and this explains the reasons for the mixed reaction when the TSA matter was up for debate and most especially the Senate stands to ensure that due process are followed in its contrivance and overall configuration.
If we have to adopt the Treasury Single Account, then we have to get it right this time, the change Mantra of the Buhari led government has given some credence of hope to an end to the shenanigans that has often encumbered the successes of such democratic process. To avoid a clog in the wheel of its progress, It is on this premise that the senate is demanding openness and accountability in its handling and execution from the running of the account by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the software system company- Systemspecs.
On Tuesday, the 17th of November 2015, during the plenary sitting shortly after the presentation of the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, the Senator representing Kogi West Dino Melaiye raised a point of order calling the Abubakar Bukola Saraki led 8th Senate to investigate an alleged N25 billion commission paid to Systemspec being 1% of the accrued TSA fund that passed through its Software – REMITA. Baffled by the politicization of the TSA fund, Dino Melaiye also called the attention of the Senators to a publication in one of the National dailies sabotaging their earlier call for a probe into the alleged N25b commission paid. A copy of the newspaper publication was tendered and submitted to the Senate President for immediate action during plenary.
Based on constitutional provisions, the Executive arm of government led by President Buhari dispenses the honour and holds the sword of the community. He administers laws enacted by the legislature. The Legislative arm on the other hand prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. For instance, the civil society group or any aggrieved Nigerian can exercise his fundamental right by submitting a written petition to the Senate through the relevant Senate committees on any actions taken by the executive which is deemed inimical to the Country’s progress, while the same individual or group can write to the judicial arm to call the legislative and executive to order, which on the contrary, has no influence over the executive or the legislative.
Simple logic depicts that certain perplexity challenging the rights of the Senate, with an ample oversight power demanding ‘rare’ information from the executive on the TSA implementation shows the leaps and troughs of our democratic outreach. It is imperative that good governance in democratic settings like ours is dependent on the type of laws enacted by the legislature as they are the eyes of the electorate in their oversight capacity as watchdog to other arms of the government. While I agree that the relationship between the executive and the legislative arm should be strengthened as we’ve learnt from our nascent democracy, that one cannot be strictly separated and independent of the other, it is also, important that their cooperation must work in favor of those whom they represent; to formulate policies and laws in line with standard practices.
To further consolidate on the earlier points established by Senator Dino Melaiye, Section 82 and 120 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, empowers the national and state assemblies to direct or cause to be directed or investigated into:
- Any matter or thing with respect to which it has powers to make laws
2. The conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged with the duty or responsibility for executing or administering laws enacted by the national or state assembly, and disbursing or administering the money appropriated;
3. To make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and to correct any defects in existing laws;
4.To expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the executive or the administration of laws within its legislative competence
Automatically, the Senate is required by law to exercise its democratic privileges to conduct investigation into the activities of the Treasury Single Account for good of the Country. However, it must be noted that these investigations are not in any way a confirmation of fraud until investigations are concluded. So, does carrying out this legislative oversight functions infer that the 8th Senate is opposed to the implementation of the Treasury Single Account?
The advantages that the TSA portends far outweighs its demerit for any right thinking person to vehemently oppose its successful implementations at a time like this when the Country is on its path to economic recovery and moral renaissance.
Loss of moral value is the reason many see this move as the ‘’Executive Vs Judiciary’’. The bone of contention here is who gets what and under what condition. What is the role being played by the e-collection agent (REMITA)? Why the disregard for the CBN act, which makes it mandatory as the sole body responsible for collection and disbursement of money on behalf of the Federal government. Answers to these any many other pertinent questons might fasttrack the implementation process and lay to rest the confusion surrounding funds payment.
In every rumour there’s a grain of truth in it, no matter how insignificant – that ‘’little truth’’ is what the senate seek to unravel. Checks and balances are necessary especially in this CHANGE era where expectations are high, monitoring of executive actions, through oversight mechanisms such as the committee on Finance, and Banking set up by the Senate President will cut wasteful spending and enhance speedy economic growth. In my opinion, this motion raised by Melaiye to probe the activities of the TSA is similar to the type raised by Senate Bukola Saraki back then in 2011 on fuel subsidy payments, which eventually saved Nigeria a whooping N1.2 trillion in the excess crude account. The TSA must work effectively for Nigeria and it activities must not be shrouded in secrecy. On the positive, these might just be the beginning of an independence legislation we’ve been craving, devoid of financial or material benefits or inducement by members of the executive arm to overlook certain issues of national interest.
Wale Bakare writes from Lagos and can be reached on Twitter by @waleflame
Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates