By Chinelo Obogo and Nnamani Adanna, Abuja
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, had demanded resignation of top managers of the petroleum sector over reported large scale crude oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The former Anambra State governor who spoke at the 52nd annual Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) conference in Lagos, yesterdays, on the topic, “Accounting As A Requisite For Sustainable Governance,” said he expected that the hierarchy of Nigeria’s oil management bureaucracy would immediately quit after the discovery of the oil theft, because according to him, it is irrefutable evidence of their incompetence, if not collaboration.
From 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has been the Minister of Petroleum, while Ibe Kachikwu was the former Minister of State for Petroleum but was later replaced by former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva.
Obi, however, promised that if elected, his administration would tackle corruption head-on and subject all arms of government to routine audits.
“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 kilometres 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. We will abide by the fiscal responsibility laws. All arms of government will be subject to routine audit this is the only way to ascertain the veracity of procurement figures, recurrent and concurrent expenses, even constituency projects. If we cannot properly account for our finances, the country is finished.”
On involvement of accountants in corruption, Obi 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.”
On loans and borrowing Obi said “to ensure sustainability and resilience, we will stop borrowing for consumption. 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 industrialisation and when borrowing is unavoidable, it will be strictly for production.”
He enjoined ICAN as a profession of honour to “increase the level of peer surveillance and internal discipline among your ranks , if we cannot properly account for our finances, the country is finished , let us as accountants, do more to check and stop corruption.”