It is not the first time the Office of Auditor General of the Federation is making startling revelations on mismanagement of resources by the MDAs. In 2017, a similar whistle was blown but nothing came out of it. For example, data from the 2017 audit report revealed that about N9.7 billion released for the implementation of 32 projects in 17 states in Nigeria was unaccounted for. According to the report, N17 billion was disbursed for the implementation of 32 projects in 17 states including the Federal Capital Territory. However, N9.7bn of the funds is unaccounted for. This is preposterous!
From the earlier mentioned constitutional provisions, the main function of the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly is to review whether public money was spent or not for the approved purpose and with due regard to efficiency, economy, and effectiveness. Unfortunately, such public sittings to review the audit reports are rarely called for by NASS and when they do, the outcome of such probes is never made public or acted upon. That is why the culture of impunity among the MDAs in respect of financial accounting persists.
It is reports like that of the Auditor-General of the Federation that organizations like Transparency International rely on to rate Nigeria on its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. When we are categorized as being “fantastically corrupt” despite all our anti-corruption measures, it is because of this reckless and unsubstantiated spending by our MDAs. Oftentimes, the Office of Auditor General has persistently decried the non-submission of financial reports by the MDAs and when our public servants are deemed corrupt, they cry of hate speech and wrong profiling.
As one of the anti-corruption agencies, the Office of Auditor-General of the Federation ought to be well-resourced to enable it to perform optimally. It shouldn’t be operating from any rented apartment or be at the whims and caprices of any other authority as stipulated in Section 85 (6) of the 1999 Constitution. The National Assembly, particularly the Public Accounts Committees of the two chambers, should stop being the burial ground of the Auditor-General of the Federation’s reports. Instead, the reports should be promptly acted upon with recommendations for the proper prosecution of the erring chief executives of any culpable MDAs by the ICPC, EFCC, or the Office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Without punishment for this flagrant misappropriation and mismanagement of scarce public resources, the culture of impunity will continue to soar. Finally, as demanded by the Auditor General last Wednesday, the President should waste no more time before sending in the Federal Audit Service Bill for quick passage into law in order to strengthen the performance of the Office of the Auditor-General.”
Our “SOS” [Save Our Soul] message to the women accountants is well-grounded and is derived from our acute awareness of the superior credentials of our womenfolk in matters pertaining to feeling the pulse of our nation and their reflective (ultra-sensitive) antennae when danger looms on the horizon.
Our women accountants are not lacking in knowledge, stamina, and guts. It is the men who rely on swagger and bravado. The crucial matter at hand is that of monumental corruption compounded by impunity and mendacity. Of course, it would be farcical to suggest that women have not been culpable in the plethora of graft, sleeve, and outright brigandage that have plagued our nation.
What is self-evident is that the financial indiscipline that has permeated all levels of government is frightening. Even the private sector is neither excluded nor immune.
Perhaps, we need to come up with vaccination against financial indiscipline. We are now so neck-deep in it that the women accountants may choose to inject us with several doses or leave us to our fate in the intensive care unit.
This is inconceivable that the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria [SWAN] would confine its concerns to purely financial and economic matters. All over our nation, the terrorists have unleashed mayhem – kidnapping, arson, suicide bombing, armed robbery, etc.
On its front page one of our national newspapers delivered the following definition:
“Terrorism is a calculated use of violence aimed at causing fear in a population in order to bring about a specific political objective.”
It added the following:
“Nigeria remains the third most impacted country in the world by terrorism – a position it has retained since 2015, the 2019 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) shows.
Only Iraq and Afghanistan are ranked worse than Africa’s most populous country, which has been dealing with violent insurgency in its northeastern region since 2009. The report was published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace.
Other countries in the top 10 rank are Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, and India. Yemen, the Philippines, and the Democratic Republic complete the list.
These ten countries accounted for 87% of deaths from terrorism in 2018. Nigeria accounted for 13%.
Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the second-highest number of deaths from terrorism after South Asia, overtaking the Middle East and North Africa, which is now ranked third.
Although the number of global terrorism-related deaths declined for the fourth consecutive year, Nigeria and Afghanistan witnessed an upsurge.
The surge in Nigeria counters the government’s claims that it has reined in the reign of terror in different parts of the country.
GTI says 2, 040 died in 2018 due to terrorism. The figure rose by 508, representing a 33% increase on the figures for 2017, which stood at 1, 532.
“The increase in deaths was the result of the intensification of the conflict between pastoralists and the nomadic Fulani people, with deaths attributed to extremist Fulani elements increasing by 261 percent in a single year,” the GTI report said.
The uptick in the Nigerian terrorism death pushed up the number in Sub-Saharan Africa, making the region the second most terrorized region in the world.
In spite of the spike, 2014 remains the darkest year for Nigeria when it was ranked the second most terrorized country in the world. At that time, Boko Haram fighters unleashed the violent reign on the northeast and occupied a large swathe of land, which is called its caliphate.
The inability of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to substantially deal with the insurgents was one of the reasons the People’s Democratic Party lost out of the center.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, who promised to halt the spread of the Boko Haram insurgency was voted into power in 2015 even though he was an opposition candidate then.
While Buhari has overseen a measure of success in the fight against Boko Haram and its splinter group loyal to the Islamic State – Islamic State in West African Province – insurgents are still capable of carrying of fatal attacks on military and civilian targets.
In the first eight months of 2019 alone, at least, 615 military officials were killed by Boko Haram, 2019 GTI shows.
However, the report indicates that deaths caused by Boko Haram dropped 42% in 2018 compared to the previous year, “an 89 % decline from their peak in 2014.”
Moreover, the fatality rate of Boko Haram attacks has fallen from 15 deaths per attack to four in the past five years. This is consistent with the Nigerian government’s claims of having substantially degraded the insurgents.
“The position of the Nigerian government is that the Boko Haram terrorism has been degraded and defeated. The real Boko Haram we know is defeated,” the Nigerian government said in a statement on July 30.
It, however, said the country was facing “a mixture” of Boko Haram remnants, criminal gangs, and fighters from the terror groups in the Maghreb and other West African countries.
While Boko Haram was less fatal in 2018, GTI says “Fulani extremists” were rampant in their violence and “were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths” in Nigeria.
The group, GTI shows, carried out 297 attacks and was responsible for at, least, 1,158 deaths. Over 200 of those attacks were described as “armed assaults,” and mostly targeted at civilians.”
The stakes could not be higher. We have become a nation of warring ethnic groups under the grip of bandits, rapists, and kidnappers. Added to the cauldron is our ethnoreligious crisis. We are close to breaking point and we are in grave danger of being burnt out.
Indeed, we are right in the eye of the hurricane while riding the storm. It has become a harrowing experience without precedence anywhere in the world except for Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan. Alas, instead of credit alert what members of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria have been getting is SECURITY ALERT !!
Tragically, most of the victims are women (some of them may well be accountants) and children. The IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons) provide chilling evidence of the violence which has totally redefined the contours of our social fabric. The camps are overflowing with victims of rape and total surrender to monumental degradation. For them, all hope is lost. What they have witnessed directly in terms of abuse of their human rights is beyond imagination. What prevails is brutality, ruthlessness, and savagery in resolving conflicts, revenge, and reprisals in a vicious circle of unrelenting bloodletting. The men have been mostly slaughtered leaving the women in shock – to grieve and mourn. Still hanging in the air are recurring allegations that those who are meant to protect them are as vicious and brutal as those from whom they fled when their homes were set on fire and everything else was destroyed. Double jeopardy.
Can women accountants ignore the plight of those (including underage girls) who are being trafficked across the Sahara Desert only to end up in brothels in Libya and Italy or those whose organs have been harvested by unscrupulous merchants of death and agony?
Sometimes, women accountants end up as collateral damage. A case in point is that of a Chartered Accountant who as an internal auditor of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). I think his name was Bernard Umezulike and his wife was also a chartered accountant. They lived at Festac Town. Anyway, during the course of one of the endless probes into the affairs of NNPC, the Chairman of the tribunal threatened to disband the panel as some critical documents were nowhere to be found. Umezulike promptly intervened and volunteered the information that he had copies of the missing documents and would bring them to the tribunal the following day. To cut a long story short, at the stroke of midnight armed robbers broke through the ceiling of his house. The only item they took was the briefcase stuffed with documents. Before they left, they shot Umezurike in the presence of his wife and children. His traumatized widow abandoned her job in Lagos and fled to the safety of her village. Then of her patriotic and diligent husband was wasted for nothing. The report of the probe has been gathering dust for over twenty years.
Like the rest of us, women chartered accountants must be puzzled by the stacks and stacks of corruption probes which the government has merrily announced over the last sixty years.
Nothing seems to have changed. The needle has not moved!! If anything, the stench of corruption is even more prurient now than ever. We were all on-lookers when the same projects (mostly boreholes) were commissioned over and over again by “Better Life For Rural Women”; followed by DFRI (Department of Rural Roads and Infrastructure) and Petroleum Trust Fund, etc. Now, they have been repackaged and relabelled as “Constituency Projects”!! To add insult to injury our nation is littered with abandoned projects ranging from dams to bridges, power stations, silos, scanners, hospitals, housing estates, etc. Apparently, nobody is bothered.
On the subject of corruption, let me share with you my experience while I served as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Lagos State University.
After delivering an address to the graduating students in which I pleaded with them to be great ambassadors of the university by shunning corruption, it was time for what was tagged as “Questions and Answers”. I volunteered to answer questions from the floor. I was stunned when the students delivered a bombshell:
“Mr. Pro-Chancellor, with all due respect your generation has enjoyed corruption. Now it is our turn, you want to stop it. We will never agree. Corruption must continue until everyone gets his own share.”
Perhaps we should add the number of children who are out of school (particularly in the north) to the huge burden with which all of us (especially women accountants) have to contend. The frightening statistics are as follows:
There are 8 million out-of-school children, about 69 percent of the country’s out-of-school children are in the North.
Over a wide range of issues, women have proved their worth as chartered accountants, engineers, architects, doctors, etc. Even when you check those countries that have managed to cope reasonably well with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are mostly those under the leadership of women. The facts speak for themselves. While the men were fumbling, it was the women who acted with firmness and compassion.
I am sure most of you are aware that at various points of our nation’s history, it was the women who fought bravely for justice and freedom. A dip into the history of the Enugu coal riots and other epochal events leave us no choice but to salute the valor of our womenfolk. During the colonial era, it was the women who stripped completely naked to confront the white demons who promptly took to their heels !!
Before matters come to such a climax let us at least listen to a video that has gone viral: “THE WOMEN’S WAR” by Dumebi Kachikwu (Roots TV)
“Your country needs you, You in times past delivered your people, save your nation. You Nigerian women did this.