By Andrea Sewuese
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), otherwise known as the Treasury of the Federation, has the responsibility to manage the country’s receipts and payments; ensure that a proper system of accounting exists in every department of the nation’s treasury and exercise general supervision over the receipts of public revenue and the expenditure of the government.
With an apparent sense of purpose and motivated by the determination to be a front runner in the race by the Government to achieve a viable economy, the Treasury of the Federation has been firm in the discharge of its statutory mandate. It has developed and anchored public financial management policies on behalf of the Federal Government and has continuously evolved new strategies to address issues that may arise concerning these reforms.
The financial management reform initiatives have recorded tremendous successes and have changed the landscape of public finance management in the country. Notable in this instance are: the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Government Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Audit Modernization, adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and training of public finance managers on the preparation and presentation of IPSAS accrual accounting compliant general purpose financial statements.
As part of the effort to further entrench transparency, accountability and efficiency in the system, the Treasury adopted and fully deployed modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the public financial management process. This symbolized a significant leap from the analog system that witnessed more failures than successes.
The campaign for financial transparency and accountability in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) has taken a higher and more purposeful dimension. Through the network of its staff in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the Treasury of the Federation has pushed for adoption and implementation of the financial management reforms initiatives in all MDAs, carried out orientation on the objectives of the reforms, sought input from all stakeholders, issued directives as appropriate and made utmost effort to ensure compliance.
In September 2020, the Treasury of the Federation, relying on the provisions of the Financial Regulations (FR.107n), commissioned a comprehensive review of treasury forms and accounting source documents used for government financial transactions in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). In 2021, the Office also commissioned the review of the Financial Regulations.
In carrying out these review, the Treasury noted that the accounting sources documents in use were not compatible with the ICT-driven financial management reforms. Furthermore, the version of the Financial Regulations in use was last reviewed in 2009, thus did not capture the current public financial management reforms which Internal Auditors and Chief Executives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) need as a guide in all government financial transactions.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) has continued to guide, sensitize and provide appropriate roadmap for relevant stakeholders and managers of government finances. The Technical Sub-Committee on Cash Management would come up as a clear example in this regard. Inaugurated in April 2016, the Technical Sub-Committee is the professional arm of the Federal Cash Management Committee and its functions include obtaining stakeholders’ inputs, deliberating on them and making informed recommendations to the Federal Cash Management Committee.
Amidst the global economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), in April 2021, gathered the Technical Sub-Committee on Cash Management for the third edition of an annual Retreat, with the theme, “Advancing the operational efficiency for effective liquidity and cash management in Nigeria: beyond rhetoric”. The overriding objective of the Retreat was to evolve strategies and promote useful ideas that would promote efficient management of government funds, which at that time, was seriously affected by the global economic meltdown.
In June 2022, the Treasury of the Federation convened the fourth edition of the Technical Sub-Committee on Cash Management Retreat to consolidate on the gains of the previous meetings. With the theme, “Enthroning Fiscal Discipline in Nigeria’s Public Financial Management: A Clarion Call to All Stakeholders”, the Retreat sought to improve the capabilities of members of the Sub-Committee, get them more acquainted with the country’s fiscal challenges and evolve strategies that would enable effective fiscal management.
In May 2022, the Treasury of the Federation convened a five-day Retreat in Kano State where it engaged stakeholders in the management of government finances on discussions to harvest new ideas and strategies to advance the Public Finance Management Reform Initiatives of the Federal Government.
The realities of the contemporary ICT-driven world, the risks as well as the administrative challenges associated with document-based audits had become very clear, making a strong case for the adoption of modern audit technology. Being aware of this reality, the Treasury of the Federation procured and equipped its Audit Monitoring Department with modern auditing software and gadgets.
The OAGF went ahead to organize a three-day orientation workshop for internal auditors in 2020 on the use of the modern auditing software. In May 2022, another five-day intensive training workshop was organized for accountants and auditors in Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Financial Transparency Policy/Open Treasury Portal was inaugurated as part of the public financial management initiatives to promote transparency in government financial transactions. This policy stipulates timely availability of information on revenue inflows and expenditures by government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the Open Treasury Portal. Stakeholders and the general public can view the information and ask questions, if need be.
The Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the Treasury is arguably one of the cardinal policies anchored by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF). The policy has reduced the cases of ghost workers and other dubious activities hitherto associated with government payroll. New ideas and strategies have been incorporated and many Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the military and paramilitary formations have been enrolled. The operations of the IPPIS has been decentralized, thus Agencies and institutions can handle certain functions without going to the headquarters in Abuja.
In the face of the dwindling revenues that has hampered implementation of government policies and programmes, the Treasury has become a central player in the quest to reverse the country’s dwindling revenue inflows. It has evolved strategies, implemented new strategies and mobilized resources and personnel in a concerted effort to see an improvement in the revenue inflows.
In 2020 the Treasury secured approval of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. (Mrs.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed to post Treasury Directors to Federal Government Owned Enterprises (FGOEs) as Directors of Revenue. The Revenue Directors were to inject new ideas into the revenue generating mechanism of the FGOEs as well as ensure appropriate remittances by the agencies.
In April 2022, a review of the policy was carried out at a Retreat for Chief Executives and Treasury Directors of Revenue of the Federal Government Owned Enterprises (FGOES) held in Abuja. The report confirmed that the deployment of Revenue Directors to the ten Federal Government Owned Enterprises (FGOEs) in 2020 contributed positively to the realization of N1.250 trillion internally generated revenue (IGR) in 2021.
Equitable distribution of revenue to the three tiers of government is an activity that the Treasury has continued to play a very vital role. The Office coordinates the Technical Session of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). The Plenary, chaired by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning deliberates and approves the recommendations made at the Technical Session and ensures disbursement of allocations to beneficiaries.
At the centre of the operations of the Treasury of the Federation is the human resources, the staff. The Office has made appreciable effort to provide conducive working environment, safety gadgets and health facilities at the Treasury House, in Abuja. A fire sub-station, clinic and eye centre have been constructed and the office building beautifully renovated. Staff discipline has never been compromised as mechanisms have been put in place to forestall infractions and punishments meted out to erring staff according to the law.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation has undertaken wide range capacity building initiatives for its staff, public finance operators in MDAs and other stakeholders. In addition, the Office has focused its attention on the Federal Treasury Academy at Orozo, Abuja to make it a premier institution for developing human capacity in public finance management. Massive infrastructural development have been ongoing and efforts are on to get necessary legal backing and approvals by relevant Agencies to ensure that certificates issued by the institution are generally accepted.
Amidst backlash, condemnations and sometimes deliberate falsehood by individuals, associations and organizations, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) has remained resolute in its mandate. In spite of the numerous distractions, the Treasury has reinforced its resolve to fulfill its statutory mandate of ensuring a robust economy, entrenchment of efficient accounting systems in all MDAs and managing the country’s receipts and payments. There has also been applauses, commendations and awards which has spurred the Agency on in the discharge of its mandate.
Eugenia Abu Media