The Senate has admitted as an error, the N25 Billion fraud allegation leveled against SystemSpecs Limited, the indigenous technology company engaged by the Government to provide its Remita platform for the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account project.
The admittance of the gaffe was contained in the report of the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and Public Account set up to investigate the matter after an allegation of TSA fraud was raised on the floor of the Senate by Sen. Dino Melaye who represents Kogi West Senatorial district.
According to the Joint Senate investigative committee, “the committee could not ascertain the deduction/collection of twenty five billion (N25 billion) by SystemSpecs as 1% fee charged for the use of its Remita platform within the period under investigation.” This was stated in section 6.1.16 on pages 16 and 17 of the committee’s report.
The committee was also able to establish that the fees for providing the TSA payment platform and associated services is shared by the Central Bank, Commercial Banks and SystemSpecs, contrary to the allegation that SystemSpecs, the Remita platform provider, was the only entity earning the TSA transaction fees.
Commenting on the report, a legislative aide who pleaded for anonymity, said rather than castigate the Senate, it should be commended for owning up to the information gap and making attempts to correct it. He said this is the hallmark of the new Senate under the leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Many Nigerians had considered the Senate’s fraud allegation a veiled attempt to frustrate the anti-corruption stance of the president who was seen as a major promoter of the TSA initiative. It would be recalled that the president has continued to praise the TSA initiative for curbing corruption, saving the country trillions of Naira, and giving visibility to government’s cash assets.
When contacted for his view, Debo Adeniran, a civil society activist, wondered whether the Senate was attempting to “frustrate the TSA project, still at its infancy, as an excuse to exempt the Senate from compliance with TSA to which President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently pledged commitment.”
Adeniran added that “all well-meaning Nigerians should not sacrifice patriotism on the altar of petty politics but join President Buhari to build up local capacity in diverse areas that have potentials of helping the nation become less dependent on foreign sourced input.”
According to the Accountant General of the Federation, the implementation of TSA has revealed that federal MDAs were operating over 17,000 bank accounts in different banks, a situation which made it impossible for government to be in control of its funds and led to high operational cost.
Latest information from the Office of the Accountant General however indicates that 976 federal MDAs have now complied with the TSA directive and the success is leading Government to undertake other anti-corruption initiatives including the audit of serving military and pensioners’ payroll which is alleged to be riddled with massive fraud.