President Buhari issues deadline on Treasury Single Account



LESS than 24 hours after The Guardian chronicled how successive administrations flouted the constitution for 48 years by operating multiple revenue accounts since 1967, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to comply with government’s instructions on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by September 15, 2015 or face sanctions.

The new directive followed last month’s (August 7, 2015) presidential order to MDAs to revert to TSA; meaning that all receipts due to the Federal Government or any of her agencies are to be paid into the Federal Sub-Treasury Account maintained in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Guardian on its front page yesterday reported that MDAs’ penchant for multiple revenue accounts was not only unconstitutional but also bred corruption, especially as the Oliver Lyttleton Constitution, the 1954 document that conferred the status of a federation on the nation, carefully made provisions for single revenue account for the Federal Government.

Preparatory to the 1960 independence, the colonial masters had kept faith with that aspect of the law and bequeathed it to the First Republic, run by the duo of the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as president and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister.

However, the Nigerian civil war economy run by Gen. Yakubu Gowon — beginning from 1967 — necessitated a deviation from what was the norm and inadvertently opened the door of what critics have come to refer to as the door of impunity for successive military and civilian governments.

The practice continued even without regard for the Section 162, sub-section 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which states: “The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called ‘the Federation Account’ into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

In an interview with The Guardian in Ibadan, Oyo State, a budget historian and lawyer, Dr. Tunji Ogunyemi, had attributed operation of ‘illegal accounts’ by MDAs to “exigency and, sometimes, corruption.”

In what appeared a corroboration of that view, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, an oil expert and former adviser to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, told The Guardian that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan had planned to implement the TSA in February but was seemingly overwhelmed with the issues of the 2015 elections.

President Buhari’s quest for cash, however, sought a forced departure through a directive issued by Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi.

Kifasi was to read another riot act yesterday when his new circular observed that “a number of MDAs are yet to comply with the directive.” “The implementation of the TSA,” he said, “is expected to aid transparency and facilitate compliance with Sections 80 and 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended).”

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