Remita: From The Senate Hyperbole To The Confession Of The CBN Governor, Any Truth Uncovered?
The full implementation of Treasury Single Account by the Buhari government, with the core objectives of blocking leakages in government revenues and expenditures across board, is quite outstanding and laudable for its clear potentials to salvage the Nigerian economy from decline to prosperity.
At the time when heads are nodded in appreciation of this development, it definitely would spark high-feeling to hear of any 'rumour' that the motives of the TSA are somehow tampered with or tapped for exploitative gains, particularly in any form of fraud, unauthorised or excess charges anyway attacked to the problem-solving TSA.
Sometimes in November, the Senate of the Federal Republic was outright charged, at the Public Opinion Court, for misinformation about illegality and exorbitant commission charged for the deployment of REMITA (an e-payment software used for the transfer of Federal Government’s funds from financial institutions into a single treasury account [TSA]).
This condemnation was prettily pivoted on alleged interior motives of the leadership of the Senate to take vengeance on some power-holders, or a kind of adduced intent of going at loggerheads with the Executive decision on adoption of TSA.
Among other newspapers who had issued judgement on this case is PREMIUM TIMES with the verdict that reads:
"PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report that the use of the software is not only legal but also represents a drastic cut of the commission previously charged by banks for collection of government revenues."
The above judgement was sequel to her 'blanket' findings that the commission collected by SystemSpecs (the owners/developers of Remita) is nowhere near N25billion, as alleged by Senator Dino Melaye.
The fact is, the Nigerian Senate undeniably induced that there's a shady deal in the TSA operation. With a sharp recall, Senate President Bukola Saraki had also made an emphatic statement that "No amount of blackmail will stop the N25bn TSA probe," noting that it's been brought to the attention of the National Assembly that the laudable goals of TSA is virtually threatened by mismanagement and non compliance of extant laws.
Hitherto, from most of all I've been able to peruse on national dailies and parts of social media comments however, I've only been made to understand that the Senate was just out for mere gainsaying and futile exercise. Most particularly by the several deprecations that the Senate was completely wrong in her allegation. As located in record in fact, the Accountant General of the Federation disputed having any business with Remita, according to Daily Times Nigerian Newspaper of 18 Nov 2015.
On the 9th of December 2015, the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, in company of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, added more illusions to my confusion (so to say) by giving up that there's truly an abuse and mismanagement of the TSA regime, as raised by the Senate or as either modified by the professionals.
This clash of Bureaucracy and professionalism, as described by the Nation Newspaper, when the duo of Emefiele and Ahmed were pinned down with arguments at a public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Finance; Banking, Insurance, and other financial Institutions and Public Accounts makes a new reference point for the refuted claims of the Senate.
Yes! TSA has come to stay. But it has also been verified that there's 1% service charge paid to Remita under the TSA which was earlier unknown to the CBN master, until his interface with the Senate President. "I did not know that one per cent was being taken on that account until we were summoned to the office of the Senate President and I was surprised to hear it. It was immediately that I swung into act to find out who John Obaro is. I called him immediately to refund the money he collected and to reverse the payment," Emefiele had said. In all sincerity however, this charge, as decried by the Senate and similarly confirmed by the CBN governor, is too exorbitant.
It would not be logical enough that the same government who introduced TSA purposely for cutting costs is, at the same time, wittingly or unwittingly loosing such amount to a collector's pocket.
If all these are not clear enough, the Senate-dug assertions by the CBN governor apparently are. When asked whether he was aware that one percent was being taken from the funds collected for the Federal Government, Emefiele's response is alarmingly amazing.
Let me conclude by saying neither the interest of knowing who owns Remita, nor pouring rains of encomium on the Senate for digging REMITA saga to this level should be the priority. What should remain ultimate is the concerted effort to make Nigeria an enviable economic state that is at-all-time up to the task of ensuring the well-being of its citizens.
To this end, President Muhammadu Buhari glaringly has a lot to do. Beyond implementations, absolute monitoring of how projects are carried out, unceasing check-up of authorities in charge, and necessary reviews at appropriate time are matters that should be given utmost concern. While to the Senate President, let him be re-informed that his word that "the Senate goal is in tandem with that of the Executive; to stamp out corruption and expose mismanagement of public resources" is very much under public surveillance.
Akorede Shakir writes from NYSC Orientation Camp, Kangere, Bauchi State.