By Chimezie Godfrey
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat through its States’ Fiscal Transparency Accountability and Sustainability Program for Results, SFTAS, team has trained a total of 6790 revenue officers towards enhancing the revenue base of states of the federation.
This was disclosed by the Senior Program Manager for the Desk, Mr Lanre Ajogbasile during the NGF Secretariat’s monthly meeting.
Ajogbasile also disclosed that the Desk accomplishes this task with the help of a pool of 65 consultants across diverse departments such as budgeting, tax administration, audit, procurement, financial reporting, and E-Procurement.
“When we have requests from states, we review them, do Action Plans with the states and we pick the best experts to work on the requests, adding that the Desk works with twelve (12) full-time experts and four (4) project officers.”
The teams, according to the Senior Programmes Manager are built with strong focus on the experts’ core competencies. The SFTAS Program was introduced in 2017 and will be rounding up in 2023. However, a succeeding SABER program will be replacing it as soon as the SFTAS program is concluded.
These teams have been responsible for the ease of running the states despite the paucity of funds that have been afflicting states due to the non-remittance of monies into the federation account by the NNPCL in the last five months.
The program of the NGF coupled with remittances from other sources have pulled states out of the doldrums during these trying times.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the World Bank have assisted the SFTAS team in training over 1200 beneficiaries. “In addition, when you expand beyond the BMGF and World Bank partnership, we have trained 6790 beneficiaries that cut across Legislators, Commissioners, and Directors across the 36 states,” Ajogbasile disclosed.
Also, when it comes to the toolkits, there have been 4200 downloads, and we check the growth of the toolkit and downloads on a quarterly basis.
On the impact of the program on states he said that “the biggest impact of the SFTAS program is that there has been the disbursement of $1.2 billion dollars that has come during a period of fiscal distress.”
In addition, all 36 states have been able to publish their budgets online. This means that there is an increase in transparency just as 31 states have linked their BVN to payroll, thus eliminating the issues associated with ghost workers.
Mr Ajogbasile expressed delight that “we have been able to ensure that all Governors sign a charter to abide by the commitments of the SFTAS program even after it ends,” to enhance a smooth running of the subnational economies for results.