By Ossom Raphael
The Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission has called for an independent authority to be charged with the management of the Federation Account from which the three tiers of government share resources.
The Chairman, RMAFC, Mr. Elias Mbam, made the call when the delegation of the Oversight Constitutional Implementation Committee of the National Assembly of Kenya visited the commission in Abuja in Abuja.
The Federation Account is currently being managed by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, which also doubles as AGF accountant to the Federal Government.
Mbam said the combination of both functions had been a serious concerned among the three tiers of government, and noted that the separation of thiese functions would give room for transparency.
In his words, “The operation and management of the Federation Account itself has been an area of concern. Currently, the account is managed by the Accountant-General of the Federation, who doubles as the Accountant-General of the Federal Government.
“The position of the commission is that while the Federal Government should have its own accountant-general, the Federation Account should be independently managed by a separate accountant-general of the federation to promote transparency, accountability, checks and balances.
“This will engender trust among the three tiers of government and beneficiaries of the Federation Account.”
Mbam also said there was also the need for amendment of the constitution to ensure that local governments got their share of the Federation Account as joint accounts with state governments had often been subjected to manipulation.
According to him “While statutory allocation from the Federation Account due to the federal and state governments are credited to them directly, that of local governments is expected to be paid into the respective state/local government joint accounts established by Section 162 (6) of the 1999 Constitution.
“However, these joint accounts are often subjected to manipulation by the states’ supervisory authorities; thus, rendering the local governments financially incapacitated.
“The commission’s disposition is that statutory allocations to local governments should be paid directly to them; thus requiring the amendment of relevant provisions of the constitution accordingly.”
The RMAFC boss listed lack of power of enforcement and sanction as well as the absence of financial autonomy as some of The commission’s inability to exercise it’s responsibilities.
“The constitutional powers and functions of the commission are so enormous and germane to effective fiscal practices in the country.
“However, the constitution and the enabling laws of the commission do not bestow powers of sanctions and enforcement on the commission. This restricts the commission to an advisory role.
“The sensitive nature of the commission’s role in Nigeria’s fiscal management requires a large measure of independence, including financial autonomy.
“While the commission, by law, is not responsible to any other organ of government in the appointment, promotion and discipline of its staff; it is, however, still dependent on budgetary allocations, which are, most times, grossly inadequate to protect its independence and fund its operations.”
Mbam, however, disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan awaits the presentation of the recent review of the country’s revenue and onward forwarding to the National Assembly as required by Section 162 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Kenyan delegation led by the Chairman, Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee of the National Assembly, Mr. Njoroge Baiye, said they are in Nigeria to understudy the workings of the Federation Account.