President Muhammadu Buhari has described accountants as the first set of gatekeepers to ensuring that all transactions are conducted prudently and charged them to avoid being used in executing illegal financial deals.
Besides, the President reiterated the role of accountants in government’s ongoing efforts at diversifying the economic base of the country, confronting the security challenges and dealing decisively with corruption in all aspects of government businesses.
Buhari, who was represented by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris , made the remarks in a message at the 22nd yearly general meeting of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), in Abuja, with the theme: “Sustainable Economic Management in a Recession”.
“In all these spheres, the role of accountants cannot be over-emphasised,” he said, adding that the administration’s resolve to combat corruption with enhanced transparency and accountability had come to stay.
“To strengthen the fight against corruption, we launched the Whistle Blower Protection Policy and presented as Whistle Protection Bill 2016 to the national assembly in order to ensure and protect Nigerians for supporting this fight. A firm implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) since September 2015 has significantly enhanced transparency in the Federal Government’s Public Financial Management System,” he said.
The president said that his administration firmly believed that if the numerous resources were appropriately accounted for; corruption duly checked; patriotism deeply imbibed in everything; the spirit of rule of law observed; and the citizen’s political freedom ensured, Nigeria could not have been in recession.
But President of ANAN, Alhaji Shehu Ladan, commended the efforts of government in the management of recession and the prospects in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), inauguration of the Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council to boost the manufacturing sector of the economy through the formulation of sectoral and industrial policies.
He however, advised government that as a matter of policy, there should be provision to ensure that all registered companies submit audited accounts in efforts to drive revenue, adding: “More individuals will be employed and that shall men more taxes from Pay As You Earn.”
“President Buhari has continually pushed the agenda for enhancing Nigeria’s global image by always demonstrating Nigeria’s credentials. The Government’s stance against corruption-related vices have soared the image of the country in the comity of nation,” the accountant said.
In a keynote address titled: “Sustainable Economic Management In a Recession: Issues, Strategies and Options”, Prof Willie Okowa, lamented that the country had failed in terms of diversification of the economy, saying that Nigerians must begin to think out of the box.
“The politics and struggles over oil money have turned Nigerian away from the production in favour of consumption. With a high and rising population, dependence on oil money has unleashed poverty on the masses while systemic corruption has unleashed great inequalities of income and wealth.
“If the various governments of the country are able to increase taxation to about 20 per cent of national incomes, we should be able to generate about N28 trillion per annum, given our Gross Domestic Products of about N140 trillion.
“When there are no more free oil funds to share, then the various governments in the federation would be compelled to do everything possible to push taxation towards the 20 per cent threshold,” he said.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, in a goodwill message, commended ANAN’s pragmatic collaboration with the Federal Government in the drive toward post-recession sustainable economic development programmes.
Ocheni described the implementation of TSA as appropriate policy, noting that the only way to ensure prudent management of government’s resources is to ensure there is financial discipline, transparency and accountability.