President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered all former senior public office holders to return assets of government in their possession immediately.
The directive, announced on Monday by Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, affects ministers, permanent secretaries, directors and other political office holders.
A project coordinator has been appointed for the immediate take-off of an Asset Tracking and Management Project, while the minister has also created the first Central Asset Register for the federal government.
A statement by Director of Information, Salisu Na’inna Danbatta, said a Central and Unified National Database of Assets (Asset Register) would be generated to maintain record, track and manage the huge investments in capital assets owned by Government.
It noted that Mrs Adeosun had dispatched a circular to all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) requesting their accounting officers to prepare an inventory of all fixed assets held as at 31st December 2016, to facilitate physical verification by the project team.
The circular requested all heads of MDAs “to ensure that any assets held by current and former staff are fully accounted for. In this regard, you may find it necessary to contact any former staff and/or political office holders to avail them the opportunity to return relevant assets in their possession.”
The circular emphasised that “all inventory records submitted will be cross-checked to capital releases and project account purchases to ensure completeness. Where assets have been sold or otherwise disposed of, they must be recorded with supporting authorization for sale and evidence of payment, where applicable.”
It drew the attention of Heads of MDAs to Chapter 26 of the Financial Regulations, with regards to disposals of assets and warned that “any asset not accessible for physical inspection and not disposed of in accordance with financial requirements will be deemed to have been illegally withheld or converted. Please record such assets so as to enable the investigative agencies to be notified.”
The records of the assets disposed of should cover the last five years, and all accounting officers of the MDAs were to submit their reports not later than three weeks from the date of receipt of the circular.
The statement added Assets Tracking and Management Project and the creation of the Assets Register were new initiatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance designed to enhance accountability, promote transparency and deepen efficiency in line with the change agenda of the Administration of President Buhari.
“The Asset Tracking exercise and Register will make planning and control easier and improve accountability for assets. With the increased allocation to capital expenditure to 30%, it is important that all assets are recorded and accounted for. Where disposals occur, they must be in line with the laid down procedures and must be transparent,” it added.