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Remi Babalola 'Every principal officer in govt must declare assets publicly' - Ex-Minister says

The former minister attributed the alarming rate of corruption in the system to the culture of impunity that had existed in the country.

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A former Minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola, said every principal officer in the executive arm of government should be made to declare their assets publicly to curb corruption.

Babalola said this in a paper titled: "Achieving the Nigeria of Our Dream: The Responsibility of Professional Accountants” at the 45th Annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

Presenting the paper in Abuja on Tuesday, September 1, he said to effectively restrain more people from looting the country, public asset declaration is necessary.

According to him, this will make it easier to catch corrupt officials since the government already has a list of their assets and any outrageous investment can be easily investigated.

The former minister attributed the alarming rate of corruption in the system to the culture of impunity that had existed in the country.

Babalola urged the present administration to confront the endemic corruption whole-heartedly, to resolve the country’s mal-functionality.

He said to encourage whistle blowing, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should give 10 per cent of the stolen assets to whistle blowers or informants if successfully prosecuted.

He called on the National Assembly, judiciary, media, labour unions, civil society organisations, students unions and professional groups to cooperate with the government on the anti-corruption war.

The former minister decried the absence of transparency in the oil sector and the NNPC.

He said the corporation has been reduced to importing refined products and paying subsidies to bogus companies.

He recalled the controversy that led to his leaving the office of the Minister of State for Finance, which he held from 2007 to 2010.

He said it was because he had accused NNPC of shortchanging the government.

"I took a walk as a statement of intent that if they wanted to continue in that decadence of resource mismanagement, I was not going to be a part of it.’’

On the Federal Government’s bailout for the states, Babalola advised that it should be done in line with Section 41 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

"As good a gesture as the bailout is, it may lead to moral hazard as the states continue with financial recklessness leading to financial insolvency.

"Why are we borrowing to pay salaries in stark violation of Section 41 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

"Rescuing the states is a necessary gesture but on what terms, each state should have been treated as an entity with peculiar conditionality.

"A body like ICAN and other professional bodies should have been brought in as independent platform to assess and recommend terms and conditions for each state just like the situation in Greece.’’

Babalola called for a higher level of advocacy in financial prudence and disclosure by professional accountants.

He charged professional accountants to display discipline, knowledge, ethics and integrity at all times.

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