Imperative of active financial management system in Anambra
In my previous intervention, I had explained why Prof Chukwuma Soludo’s reign will do better than the good previous regimes we have had in Anambra State. I clearly mentioned that the Prof Soludo I know will distinguish his reign from his predecessors by working with a best practice Financial Management system.
I also know that beyond making the system viable to work with the Development world, a sound financial management system would also optimise the use of Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations and Internally Generated Revenue (IGRs) hence leading to super accountability. In other words, accountability can never be achieved without financial management, and I take it a step further by saying that perfect accountability cannot be achieved without a perfect financial management system.
At this point, I need to quickly mention that the manifesto presented by Soludo is not only remarkable, but also very pragmatic and promising, not just for ndiAnambra, but for the entire Nigerians. His plans are hinged on four cardinal points, namely Economic Transformation, Governance, Social Agenda and Environment.
Each of these cardinal points, have several strategies with projects, which would be capital in nature, hence involving heavy sums of money to be expended. There is no iota of doubt, that if these strategies/projects are properly implemented, Anambra State would be the dream state that we are all praying and hoping for.
However, I wish to ask the governor-elect, if he is convinced that the financial management system currently in place is strong enough to enable these projects to get effectively and efficiently delivered? I am talking about value for money. I doubt if the answer would be a YES. Without a strong control system in place, I believe that his efforts would not yield his expectations, hence, I passionately plead with him to quickly set up a unit in his office, to work on this aspect as soon as he assumes duties.
The special unit should work with the Finance Ministry and external consultants to assess and evaluate the financial management systems in place at the Anambra State MDAs. Most of the policies and controls currently in use would most likely be obsolete and so, ineffective now.
A lot of loopholes for leakages are also most likely to be currently in the system. I suggest that the incoming governor, through the unit could work with consultants to do the following: *Map the existing systems against best practice and suggest an applicable best practice system to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for implementation. This will affect the style of budgeting, procurement, advances, treasury and a whole lot of other control areas.
Agreed applicable best practice system should also be inculcated into the operatives and all MDA staff by way of training and retraining. I warn ahead of time, that the operatives will frown at such changes, but this needs to be.
*Have the special unit under His Excellency’s office, to monitor compliance. If need be, let the consultants plant fiscal agents at the MDAs. There is no doubt that the gains would far outweigh the costs at the end of the day.
It will equally be nice to have this revised system very functional almost immediately Soludo assumes office, so that incoming cabinet members do not get comfortable operating with the current financial management system.
From my professional experience in this area, I do know that implementing this review, gets tougher, when it is not introduced from the beginning of a regime.
With the above suggestions, I am most confident that the goals set will be fully achieved. I have seen this work before, and I am confident that it will also work in my beloved state. Note that I have clearly left out the state Auditor General’s office in this article. This is intentional and a topic, I would wish to dwell on sometime in the future.
*O’Martins, a financial management and compliance expert, writes from Abuja.