• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Cost of governance: FG holds workshop for 36 state commissioners in London

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Despite its claims of cutting down the cost of governance, the federal government of Nigeria held a workshop for 36 state commissioners for finance in London, the United Kingdom.

The event, themed “Public Financial Management and IPSAS Workshop for State Commissioners of Finance and Officials of OAGF,” was organised by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

The attendees of the workshop can’t be confirmed now; however, a banner sighted by BusinessDay showed that 36 state commissioners for finance and officials of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation were expected at the event held at the Hilton Kensington in London from March 4–9, 2024.

According to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), commissioners are entitled to $600 estacode for each night spent on a foreign trip.

If the 36 commissioners of finance were present at the event for at least five days, it means a total of $108,000, equivalent to N162,000,000 (at the rate of N1500 per dollar), was spent on estacode.

The above calculation didn’t include the cost of flights; other expenses for the commissioners and estacodes for officials of the OAGF and others were not included.

Bawa Mokwa, the director of press at the accountant-general’s office, confirmed that the workshop held in the UK is an annual event organised by the OAGF and is not a one-time meeting.

He clarified that the OAGF members attending the meeting are sub-committees of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), with the implementation committee comprising the commissioners of finance of the 36 states.

“It is an annual event. The OAGF members present at the meeting are sub-committees of FAAC,” he said.

Mokwa mentioned that the choice of the UK as the venue for the event is due to the residency of the facilitators in the country, who ensure the implementation of the workshop’s objectives meticulously.

“They usually go to the UK to do it annually because the resource persons are resident in the UK and they implement it to the letter,” he said.

He further stated that the workshop was approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).

This foreign trip comes amid the federal government’s move to cut down the cost of governance in the country.

In a move to minimise government expenses in the face of a persistent economic crisis, President Bola Tinubu in January reduced the official delegation for local and foreign trips by 60%.

The president has also approved the implementation of the Oronsaye report, which is aimed at reducing government spending by merging and scrapping some ministries, departments, and agencies.

However, many Nigerians on social media have reacted to the foreign workshop organised by the federal government.

“Why did this meeting happen in London, rather than in Abuja, @NigeriaGov? Who paid for them to go to the United Kingdom for this?” Osasu Obayiuwana asked on his X account.

Another X user, Rukayya Bauchi, said, “Okay they moved back the FAAN headquarters & some CBN department to Lagos to save money from ‘Key officials travels’ to Lagos for oversight functions yet they’re spending millions to travel to London for a Nigerian function that can be done in Transcop Abuja. Economic Hypocrisy!”

“How ironic that a workshop on public financial management fails woefully in its message on finance management when you calculate how much funds would be expended holding this meeting abroad,” Jock Fresh Prince said.

“Instead of paying for one or more facilitator to come, they decided that everyone should travel to London. This is why I left corporate training for many years. It is largely an estacode scam. Most of these guys will be in town and will not show up. This is a paid holiday,” Victor Asemota said.