Despite the restoration of the federal government’s open treasury portal, there are indications that some financial statements are missing.
The portal was restored few days after Daily Trust’s exclusive report on its shutdown last week.
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However, checks on the financial statements posted on the portal indicated that some records were missing, including those of the office of the accountant general of the federation (OAGF) which oversees the portal.
It was observed that there was no account of daily financial statements of the federal government, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for three successive years.
In another instance, financial records on “monthly budget performance” of several MDAs were unavailable on the portal.
The portal was inaugurated in December, 2019, to ensure transparency in government spending.
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed MDAs to publish daily treasury summary statements of their financial records above N5m.
Also, the AGF and all MDAs are expected to publish monthly budget performance reports, including their functions and economic activities, within seven days to the end of the month.
Findings by our correspondent showed that the presidency, the OAGF, the Nigerian Army (NA) and the Nigerian Navy (NN) were among the critical players that did not fully disclose their financial statements on the portal as of Saturday.
Missing daily treasury statements
“Daily Treasury Statement” of the federal government on the portal only contained daily financial records for the months of October, November and December 2018, with some daily transactions not captured; while those of 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 were entirely missing.
Also, “Daily Payment Report” of the federal government from January to August 2018 was missing. Similarly, financial records from January 1 to January 28, 2020 and January 1 to January 15, 2021 were not found.
In 2022, only records of January 1, January 23 to 31 and February 1 to 20 were disclosed. There was no financial records of March and April 2022.
Daily payment reports of MDAs for 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 were not provided at all.
Missing monthly budget performances
“Monthly Budget Performance” of the federal government was missing from September 2021 to December 2021, and there was no record in 2022 so far.
Also, monthly budget performances of the office of the Special Adviser, Senior Special Assistants to the President, domiciled in the State House and that of the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (OSSAP-NASS) were missing throughout 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and the first quarter of 2022.
No information was provided on the monthly budget performances of the Affairs of Former Heads of State and the Ecological Funds Office in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and first quarter of 2022.
Also, in 2020, only March, August, September and October budget performances of the presidential air fleet (state house) were revealed in the portal.
Similarly, budget performances of the army and navy between October 2018 and December 2018 were inaccessible on the site.
The 2019 monthly budget performances of the Defence Headquarters, NA and Nigerian Air Force (NAF) were not revealed, and no information was provided on the 2020 monthly financial records of the navy and the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).
Curiously, the monthly budget performances of the Auditor General for the Federation and the Accountant General of the Federation were missing from October 2018 to December 2018.
Also, May, June, July, August and December 2020 budget performance records of the Auditor General for the Federation were not found on the open treasury portal.
In 2020, only November’s budget performances of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) were available; while the Directorate of State Services (DSS) only disclosed January and November 2020 budget performances. There were no records of the monthly budget performances of the NSA, the DSS and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2021.
Similarly, no information was provided on the 2018 monthly budget performance of the Federal Ministry of Health; while those of July to December, 2020 were not available.
It was also discovered that three months’ records were missing in the 2018 budget performance of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Budget performances from April to July and September to December 2019 as well as July to December 2020 of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) were not accessible.
Missing annual general purpose financial statements
It is required that “audited financial statements for the federal government and all public sector entities within a month of the end of the first quarter of the following year” be posted on the portal.
However, only 2013 and 2014 annual general purpose financial statements were accessible on the site. Although 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 annual records were listed, attempts to download them showed “page not found”.
When contacted for comment on the missing financial records, Henshaw Ogubike, Director of Information, Press and Public Relations in the Accountant General’s Office, promised to find out and get back to our correspondent.
“I will find out if it is true tomorrow and revert,” he said in an SMS.
However, Ogubike did not respond to a follow-up SMS requesting him to visit the portal to verify Daily Trust’s findings.
On a number of occasions, the Auditor General for the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, had raised concerns over discrepancies in the financial statements of MDAs.
In August 2021, Aghughu said MDAs failed to account for a total sum of N4.97trn in 2019 after an audit of their financial statements. Also, in December 2021, the auditor general queried the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for spending N3.809bn on the suspended rural grazing area scheme without a presidential approval or National Assembly appropriation.
In June 2020, a civic advocacy group, BudgIT, identified discrepancies in the open treasury portal and called for improvement on the system.
Damilola Ogundipe, communications lead at BudgIT, in a statement, said though the platform was innovative and commendable, much needed to be done so that it could fully achieve its goal of enabling public transparency and accountability.
BudgIT, in a report titled: “OpenTreasury.gov.ng: Nigeria’s Spending Platform: Review, Gaps & Recommendations”, analysed data uploaded on the portal from September 2018 to May 2020.
The group said it analysed over 100,000 payment entries from over 600 distinct spreadsheets.
Between January and July 2019, BudgiT said it discovered that large sums were paid into personal accounts; including several records with vague descriptions.
It said, “Over 2,900 payments to individuals were recorded at an aggregate value of N51bn. A few examples include N2.04bn, N2.04bn and N1bn paid into personal accounts on June 21, 2019, without any payment description along with another N68m payment for ‘Ogunsuyi’ and N15.8m for ‘international’ on other dates.
“In the same 2019, we also discovered payment records without descriptions or beneficiary information. At least 5,000 payment records valued at N278bn were without descriptions, and 275 payment records with a value of N43bn were without beneficiary names.”
Therefore, BudgIT concluded that, “These inconspicuous payments cannot be assessed or traced by citizens and interested parties, thereby defeating the purpose of the platform to foster transparency.”