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I will pursue drastic reduction in cost of governance, corruption—Obi

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has stated that incompetence in financial records distorts development.

He made this known at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria’s conference in Abuja on Wednesday, with the theme, “Nigeria: Adopting Sustainability for Economic Prosperity”.

He said, “Whether you’re involved in corporate, public, government, or forensic accounting, all accountants are fundamentally concerned with financial records.

“Incompetence in financial records totally distorts intended development. It is logical; therefore, that placing Nigeria on the part of economic prosperity will help reduce our national challenges to the barest minimum.”

Obi noted that sustainable economic policies that will drive economic prosperity in the country must be put in place.

“In keeping with our vision of moving the country from consumption to production, we must pursue sustainable economic policies that will help the nation to remain productive in all fronts and sectors.

“For this reason, we will endeavor to domesticate the Sustainable Development Goals as part of our governance modalities,” he said.

Citing his party’s aim, he added, “We have a three-tracked plan aimed at achieving Goal 12 of the SDG, namely ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Second, pursuant to Goal 9 of the SDGs our administration will from its inception continue to encourage investment in infrastructure, energy, transportation, irrigation, and telecoms to grow these and other sectors.”

He noted that his administration if elected, will expand the frontiers of financial inclusion to ensure that SMEs have greater access to credit to grow.

“We will work with financial institutions to improve their ability to identify credit-worthy borrowers; and support inventory financing, which will help to unlock finance for SMEs dealing with high account receivables. All loans must be invested in regenerative projects. We shall pursue a drastic reduction in cost of governance and corruption; improve ease of doing business to attract Foreign Direct Investment to jumpstart industrialization and when borrowing is unavoidable, it will be strictly for production.” Obi said.

He also noted that it was imperative that henceforth, the country should strive to operate within available resources and strive for a balanced national budget as cost-saving measures.

He said, “I have touched on the cost of governance and blocking leakages. The efficiency and credibility of any system whether an institution or even a government is closely linked to the credibility of its accounting system, and where there is disorganization in the growth of any nation, you will always find discrepancies in the accounting practices.

“Our message of probity, equity, innovation, competence, true brotherhood and visionary reconstruction in governance has not only been embraced by the youth, but has now become too many, their own personal and collective battle to take back our country, and rescue it from the difficult times with which we daily struggle.”

He also noted that, as President, one of his priorities will be the rule of law, due diligence, and promoting intangible assets, which he said, “are vital components of holistic security. This will also underpin public sector accountability”.

Speaking further on Fiscal Responsibility Laws, Obi noted that his administration, if elected, will abide by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

“We will abide by the Fiscal responsibility laws. All arms of government will be subject to routine audits this is the only way to ascertain the veracity of procurement figures, recurrent and concurrent expenses, and even constituency projects.

“Nigeria is not bereft of good governance ideas and plans. However, a combination of institutional weaknesses and lack of political will meant that various policies and strategies are poorly implemented leading to poor outcomes for the people.” He said.

He added that corruption has become endemic in the fabric of the nation, adding that it has become an obstacle to Nigeria’s progress.

“It is no secret that corruption has been endemic and one of the biggest obstacles to our economic progress in Nigeria. Corruption is the big elephant in the room. In the past few days, we have seen videos of illegal pipelines connected to national oil pipeline networks, running for kilometers… where billions of dollars that should have been used for development and welfare, have been illegally siphoned away, for up to nine years, according to reports.

“What I first expected was that the hierarchy of our top oil management bureaucracy will immediately resign, because, without mincing words, this is irrefutable evidence of their incompetence, if not collaboration. My administration, when we come in, will tackle this corruption head-on. We will have zero tolerance for corruption.

“The truth is that the position of accountants in our society and in our public institutions is very vital in checking corruption, especially in government. But it is also true that the position of accountants in our society is also vital in aiding corruption in our society,” he said.

He further urged accountants to do more in checking and stopping corruption.

He said, “If you look at the written financial regulations in any establishment, you will see watertight regulations of auditing, vetting, tendering, vouchering, joint signatories and other safeguards, designed to check embezzlement and corruption, yet these sharp practices and misappropriated sums continue to rise, and I understand that there is now a Nigerian record of almost N109 billion allegedly embezzled by an accountant.

“If we cannot properly account for our finances, the country is finished, let us as accountants, do more to check and stop corruption.”

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