Tuesday, September 15, is the deadline for all federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with commercial banks and move their funds to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Along with an earlier directive on non-deposit/withdrawal of foreign currencies from banks, the policy is the medicine the Nigerian financial system needs. I have consistently advocated something similar for 22 years now.
Some MDAs have been more equal than others. Because money kept in banks yielded commissions for the heads of MDAs, budgeted-for projects were not executed; at times payment of salaries was delayed. Towards the end of the year, money was shared through fictitious contracts and overseas travels.
TSA has already turned the heat on many Nigerian banks. Many MDAs have hurriedly raised vouchers for justifying emergency expenditures before closing their accounts with deposit money banks. Some are killing ghost workers or replacing them with real human beings. The game is up!
Has nobody, before now, thought of measures for curtailing government corruption? Everyone knew the right things to do, but few had the political will to do what was right. Former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala really tried to instil financial discipline in the MDAs through the IPPIS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System). She also mooted the idea of TSA. Why she could not implement IPPIS 100 per cent or TSA at all before May 2015 remained a mystery.
TSA is the right way to go. Only those that have been benefiting from government corruption should have cause to kick against it. All state governments should be compelled to adopt it — just as Kaduna State has.
Have I not said it before? No venture founded on fraud lasts long. The banks should not worsen the unemployment situation by sacking their employees. Let them cut costs by using small offices, not gigantic buildings that create an illusion of opulence. It’s time to face reality.
-By ANIEBO NWAMU