By AZA MSUE Kaduna
Kaduna state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai has said the country and rest of the world are faced with enormous challenges and leaner resources than ever in the history since the creation of Nigeria.
The governor said the world is facing the twin challenges of a global health pandemic and an economic slowdown, saying such a crisis has not been faced in the last one hundred years.
In his remarks at the 25th Annual Conference of Auditors-General of Local Governments, held in Kaduna, the governor said there cannot be a better time and a greater need for fiscal transparency and accountability than now.
According to the governor, the Kaduna State Government is working to retain its ranking as number one place for doing business in Nigeria and its position as the state that has so far attracted the highest levels of foreign direct investment this year.
El-Rufai, noted that Kaduna State Government has placed accountability and transparency at the core of its governance reforms.
“That is why we implemented the Treasury Single Account in September 2015, and have automated our procurement process, began digitizing the land registry and prohibited cash collection of government revenues. We are the first state to sign up to the Open Government Partnership and we have real-time monitoring of our projects all around the state.
The governor explained: “The Kaduna State government is also a keen participant in the World Bank assisted State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme. Many state governments have also keyed into the programme by implementing fiscal sustainability plans. I am particularly proud to say that Kaduna Sate was adjudged the best in implementing SFTAS, having completed nine (9) out of eleven (11) key performance indicators”
This follows our steady strides to increase our capacity to collect IGR. We have raised IGR from N13bn in 2015 to N44bn in 2019 without hiking tax rates”
At this juncture, let me inform you all that in the bid to devolve our accountability and transparency, we promised and ensured that Local Government areas had full control of their funds. Afterward, we conducted local government elections using electronic voting to take democracy to the grassroots. So, when you look at the fact that we empowered Local Government Councils to have full control of their funds and conducted elections, we can rightly say we have democratized accountability and transparency”
” For not only are the elected local government officials accountable to the laws and institutions of the land, but they are also accountable to the people, whose mandate they exercise in the first place. We believe that those elected to run affairs at the local level must be empowered to do so”
The conference theme “Attaining Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability through better audit process” is quite apt. It speaks to a pressing challenge within the public service as a whole to ensure that public resources are properly and judiciously deployed.
“Most times, the citizens are fixated only on the center or at state level, while oblivious of the need to monitor accountability at the very grassroots, the local government councils. However, the various offices of the Auditors General for Local Government in all our states across the federation have been quietly but remarkably carrying out their statutory functions.
The governor added: “There is every need to seek ways of making our governance and institutions sustainable for us to continue serving our people; providing economic, social and security services. The leaner resources which come in must be judiciously utilized, and jealously protected to ensure efficient and effective delivery of our mandates. No matter what is done at the Federal and state levels, unless they are replicated at the local government levels; we will have a missing link that will continuously weaken the chain. For a whole process to be full proof, the whole chain must be reinforced”
You are part of this whole and the people require you to come out of this conference with better knowledge, capability and commitment that will ensure and guarantee a Better Audit Process which will be at the heart of Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability”
“It is my sincere wish and prayer that the gains from this year’s conference in Kaduna will be visibly reflected in the improved Key performance indicators in the governance at our third tier. You are all more than equal to the task, I call on you all to remain resolute and firm in carrying out your responsibilities as Auditors-General leading your various staff to attain excellence” El-Rufai said.