The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said that current agitation by some Nigerians for the restructuring of the country was because of lack of transparency and accountability in the management of issues affecting the interest and relationships of the people.
Mr. Dogara said this in a message he sent to the opening of a two-day retreat in Lagos organised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The event was organised in collaboration with the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly.
The theme of the retreat was “Partnership between the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation and the Public Accounts Committees: A must for the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in a growing democracy.”
The Speaker, whose message was delivered by the Chairman, House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee, Ogundu Chinda, said issues of transparency and accountability cut across tribe, religion, ethnic affiliation, politics as well as country of origin.
He compared transparency and accountability issues to environmental issues, saying once they take place, they affect other persons in other parts of the world.
“The essence of government and governance is transparency and accountability. All challenges the in our country today, ranging from militancy to Boko Haram in the North East are all based on injustice, which is also hinged on transparency and accountability.
“If we are more transparent and accountable, we will be able to tackle almost all the problems besieging us today. The only reason Nigerians are talking about restructuring today is because we are not sufficiently transparent in our transactions and in our relationship with one another,” he said.
Mr. Dogara stressed the need for both parties to collaborate to tackle the issues of transparency and accountability for the common good of the country at large.
“The issue of accountability and transparency is a war or battle we are all soldiers in. With the Auditor-General and the Public Account Committee, we are generals in the war. If you are in the battlefield, the command is always ‘no retreat, no surrender,” he said.
The Auditor-General, Anthony Ayine, urged all public office holders to embrace transparency and accountability as pillars of good governance if Nigeria’s quest for democracy are to be achieved.
Financial resources, he said, were of special interest to all citizens, he added pointing out that those entrusted with the responsibility of managing them must do so for the benefit of the “ultimate owners.”
“When these resources are effectively, efficiently and economically managed for the benefits of the citizenry, good governance is said to exist,” Mr. Ayine said.
He said good governance rests on some key pillars, critical amongst them are transparency and accountability.
“You cannot have good governance when these pillars are lacking.”
Commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his stance on the anti-corruption war in the country, Mr. Ayine noted that corruption thrives under a hidden environment.
The concept of public accountability, he explained, follows a process, with the parliament entrusting government with public funds, while government in turn reports back to parliament on how these resources had been used or utilized.
He said in this process were two critical bodies at the heart of public accountability, namely the Public Accounts Committee, PAC, and the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, OAuGF.
The PAC has the responsibility of examine the extent revenues collected and expenditure incurred by government, or approved by the National Assembly, using auditor-general’s report(s).
Ideally, he said within 90 days of the submission of PAC’s report and consideration by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government was required to respond in form of a memorandum, indicating what actions have been taken or proposed to be taken in relation to PAC’s findings and recommendations.
The retreat, supported by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, DFID, had several lawmakers in attendance.
The Auditor-General of Ghana, Daniel Domelevo; Deputy Auditor-General of Sierra Leone, Tamba Momoh, and Rasheed Draman of the West African Association of Public Accounts Committees (WAAPACs) also participated in the retreat.