The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC has urged the Ministry of Finance continue to be more open, transparent and forthright with the people of Nigeria. A statement by Auwal Ibrahim Musa Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Centre (CISLAC) said this “call has become necessary given the increasingly difficult economic situation Nigerians have found themselves which is a concern to us and many Nigerians with some groups toeing the extreme path of demanding for the removal of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, a call which CISLAC doubts will resolve the issues of corruption which has permeated every facet of governance and have become the trademark of this Administration. “
“We are however also concerned by certain actions and policy directions of the Ministry which is strategic to our economic well-being as a nation. CISLAC recalls that the ministry had, under the present leadership at some point, demonstrated strong anti-corruption inclinations, making it one Ministry that was set to make a difference. The practice of publishing allocations to states and Local Government Areas, the publication of the names of firms involved in the fuel subsidy scam and the refusal to pay subsidy claims to companies allegedly under investigation and subject to verification, readily comes to mind and we encourage the ministry to remain on this useful path which is beneficial to the fight against corruption” the statement said.
CISLAC also noted that with the role that the Minister played in facilitating Nigeria’s exit from the quagmire of heavy external debt burden, there would be deeper consultations and public debates and assurances that this loans will not be misapplied as in previous times before fresh loans are obtained. “We are therefore concerned about the exclusive manner the fresh spate of external borrowings is being pursued. We remind the Minister that issues of debts are linked to sustainable development, generational equity and tax justice as the responsibility of repaying the loans, even if interest free, will rest on future generations.”
Musa’s statement also reminded the finance minister that the lack of confidence in the government’s ability to judiciously use the loans for developmental purposes is still very palpable. It reiterated that this Administration has not done enough in fighting corruption and curbing wastages and find the arguments in favor of the loans and assurances that they will be utilized for the benefit of the citizens, unconvincing.
CISLAC also used this occasion forum to draw the attention of the Minister to the racketeering and extortion going on the Nigeria Customs Service in which hapless job-seekers are defrauded of huge sums under the pretext of enrolment into the NCS, facilitating the recruitment of unqualified Cadets of questionable character into the Service. In spite of several denials, and
despite seemingly spirited efforts by the leadership of the NCS to rid itself of bad eggs, some of whom have been handed over to the EFCC, CISLAC called on the Ministry of Finance, which is the supervisory ministry to provide more support to sanitize the NCS and save innocent Nigerians from being exploited. “We demand that a thorough screening be undertaken in the NCS to weed out undesirable elements who have bribed their ways in and a comprehensive staff audit be carried out to fish out ghost officers. The Ministry must also scrutinize the activities of dubious officers who extort money from importers for clearing of goods at the ports, damaging our national image in the process”the statement said .
“We note with anxiety, the levels of duplication and wastage in the 2013 annual budget. We attribute this to inadequate consultation and a deficiency in the participatory process leading up to the budget. We call on the Ministry to improve on the budget preparation process by consulting widely and incorporating the views of civil society in subsequent budgets. We call on the Ministry to align its practices to international best practices to improve the budget process to enhance implementation and budget performance.”
CISLAC equally observed that “Managing the economy may not be a popularity contest but government appointees hold their positions in trust and have an obligation not only to act in the best interest of the people but also consult with them, provide them access to information and subject their judgments and decisions to some measure of public scrutiny, bearing in mind that they remain the ultimate beneficiaries or losers from whatever decisions are taken or policies implemented. This cannot be too much to ask from the eggheads in the Federal Ministry of Finance”.
“We call on the Minister to remain focused and undistracted by blackmailers and detractors in her effort to bequeath a solid economic structure for posterity and the future generation as posterity will judge by the legacy we all leave behind and how we utilize our present positions and opportunity to either make or mar those of the future generation,”CISLAC said