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Nigeria, TSA and Matters Arising

The N25 billion daily earning which was played up in the Senate’s TSA saga perhaps amplified the issue altogether in the public arena. Concerned, Nigerians could not in their wildest imaginations fathom how a single Nigerian company could earn that amount as collection fees. How could a single company earn that ‘big’ amount in these hard times, “wey money no dey town” just for providing a payment technology platform? ‘Aha, every brick and mortar of that company must be made and clothed in cash!’ They reasoned.

However, while the exaggerated calculations behind Senator Dino Melaye’s grave allegations have been contested and confined to the graveyard of untruths by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the TSA matter has continued to rage.

Meanwhile, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] and the present Emir of Kano, His Royal highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (III) had said that the “Federal Government under the technical support of the IMF and the World Bank has been making efforts since 2008 to implement the TSA concept in order to derive the benefit of efficient management of government cash resources and reduce the burden of borrowing.

Since the TSA has been around for so long, it is surprising that not much has been heard about it in the public domain until the Senate gave the initiative a look just about two weeks ago. We may therefore not crucify Senator Melaye and his 35 sponsors if the “facts” behind their TSA motion were inaccurate, incomplete and incoherent. He probably acted based on the information at his disposal.

Methinks, had the CBN provided prior correct and comprehensive reports to the senate about the TSA initiative, perhaps Senator Melaye’s motion would have been moved in another direction. Had the CBN not starved the Senate of vital information about the TSA: its short and long-term benefits, the Senate would have had a firm handle on the matter. Had the management of the CBN done what it is supposed to do, the nation would have been saved the recent embarrassment, which occurred on the floor of the Senate.

Because of its loud silence on the initiative, the CBN stands accused of misleading the Senate, and therefore triggering an unnecessary political war, founded on incorrect and inaccurate information. By the way, what really does the law say about keeping the Senate abreast of latest developments that has far-reaching impact on national polity?

Anyway, Sanusi spoke again, this time on March 24, 2012 at the CBN in-house seminar on TSA, he informed that “as at December 2010, over 5000 dormant and inactive accounts belonging to ministries, agencies and departments [MDAs] existed in all the CBN branches largely unreconciled”. According to reports, it took a special CBN team working round the clock for about a year to be able to reduce this to about 500 as at December 2011 during the period the TSA commenced.

Now, if the CBN alone had over 5000 dormant and unreconciled accounts at some point in time, can you tell me how many hidden, unknown and unreconciled accounts, the MDAs kept with commercial banks under different guises? You do not know abi?.However, with the TSA, there is no hiding place for spurious bank accounts cooked by the MDAs.

Director of Funds, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation [OAGF], Mohammed Dikwa, in May 2013, in his presentation on the TSA experience so far shed light on the bleeding suffered by the federal government before TSA while also listing its benefits as at December 2012, a year after its commencement.

Dikwa, in his presentation, informed that the average monthly domestic borrowing of the government was about N62 billion while augmentation through the CBN ‘Ways & Means’ financing on a monthly basis was N102 billion. The introduction of TSA, he averred, in just one year, had changed the tide of national misfortune as Average Domestic Borrowing (ADB) was significantly reduced and monthly CBN Ways & Means (Overdraft) intervention turned into a positive N4.64 billion as at September 2012.

By the way, this significant result reported by Dikwa at the end of 2012 was a reflection of a situation when only about 200 out of about 1000 MDAs had been mobilized onto the TSA scheme. It will be interesting therefore to know the status of things at the end of 2015 when all MDAs would have complied with the presidential directive on TSA.

One simple fact about TSA is that its success has refused to be blighted by political intrigues. In 2011, former president Goodluck Jonathan [a card-carrying PDP stalwart] initiated the TSA scheme. In 2015, President Mohammadu Buhari [a card-carrying APC chieftain] mandated the full implementation of the TSA initiative. Apart from the fact that 2 leaders belonging to two different parties have demonstrated serious commitment to its success, the TSA seems to have been devoid of any other political coloration.

The realization of TSA’s political neutrality by those who wanted to hurriedly make political capital out of the recent “noise” has caused the ice to melt on both sides howbeit after a few accusations and counter accusations along party divides. This is because TSA has now been clearly seen to have enjoyed the robust endorsement and involvement of key actors within the past and present governments led by different political parties.

From the foregoing, it is clear that TSA has delivered measurable benefits to the nation. Since its commencement, Nigeria’s public cash resources management has undergone substantial transformation while saving billions for the government and domestic borrowing has been drastically reduced. The government has thus been able to control its cash resources in a more efficient manner.

With all of these, the government should consolidate on the gains of the TSA. Government should preserve this laudable initiative with whatever it takes.  All Nigerians – the media, MDAs and the legislature and the public – should therefore encourage the initiative drivers [the CBN and OAGF] to implement the TSA project fully. That way, the nation will optimize the benefits, and no Senator will ever be mis-led to raise dust about TSA or other matters of such significant national interest  again.