Skip to main content

Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million and abundant resources, faces challenges in its development trajectory. Despite its potential, the country struggles with corruption and poor economic development. Recognizing the need for good governance and institutional reforms, the Nigerian government has implemented comprehensive e-governance initiatives to address these issues.

Thrust of Good Governance

IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey has emphasized the profound impact of corruption in the public sector, stating that it directly undermines the quality of public services and the rule of law. This detrimental effect poses a significant threat not only to economies and markets but also to the standard of living in many countries. In light of this, the establishment of good governance practices becomes paramount in driving development and fostering the creation of value-driven public and private institutions.

Unfortunately, Nigeria's traditional governance system, heavily reliant on human intervention, has led to persistent issues such as delays, corruption, and inefficiency. Corruption erodes trust, escalates the costs of governance, obstructs sustainable development, and perpetuates poverty. Recognizing the urgency to address these challenges, the Nigerian government has taken proactive steps by establishing institutions such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) whose mandate rests in the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offences of corruption; the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a Nigerian law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes like money laundering; and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), whose mandate is to establish and maintain a high standard of public morality in the conduct of government business and to ensure that the actions and behavior of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability.  Despite these efforts, Nigeria's unfavorable corruption index rating by Transparency International underscores the ongoing need for further improvements.

Nigeria's E-Governance Initiatives

To address these challenges, Nigeria has embarked on comprehensive Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms, supported by the World Bank. These reforms include the implementation of a cashless policy, Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS), Biometric Verification Number (BVN), and other digital initiatives. The goal is to improve efficiency, transparency, and service delivery in the public sector.

Types and Impact of E-Governance Initiatives

Nigeria's e-governance initiatives have positively impacted governance at different levels.  These e-governance initiatives have contributed to the overall fight against corruption in the following ways:

  • The cashless policy: Cash-based transactions are often more susceptible to bribery and corruption, as they can be conducted discreetly and without proper documentation. By promoting electronic payments, the cashless policy reduces the need for cash exchanges and decreases the opportunities for bribery and corruption in day-to-day transactions
  • Treasury Single Account: The TSA is a centralized bank account that consolidates all government revenue and ensures that funds are managed in a transparent and accountable manner. The Treasury Single Account helps to minimize opportunities for corruption by centralizing government funds, promoting transparency and accountability, mitigating revenue leakages, improving cash management, and facilitating effective oversight.
  • Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS): One of the significant challenges in the Nigerian public sector has been the presence of "ghost workers" – fictitious or non-existent employees who are included in the payroll system to embezzle funds. The IPPIS helps address this issue by providing a centralized database of government employees with biometric verification. By verifying the identity of each employee, the system helps identify and remove ghost workers from the payroll, reducing the opportunity for corruption and saving significant public funds.
  • Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS) is an integrated software platform used by governments to enhance financial management, budgeting, and reporting. By providing a centralized platform for managing procurement activities, the system promotes fair competition, reduces the risk of corruption in the procurement process, and ensures better value for public funds. It enables transparency in vendor selection, bidding processes, and contract management.
  • Biometric Verification Number (BVN): The BVN is a unique identification number assigned to individuals in Nigeria based on their biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial recognition. The BVN has exposed hidden bank accounts used for tax evasion, money laundering, and concealing illicit wealth.

The examples above show how e-governance has also played a crucial role in curbing corruption. Digitalization of processes through initiatives like IPPIS, GIFMIS, and BVN has significantly reduced cases of ghost-workers and non-payment of pensions. Additionally, e-governance has facilitated transparency in financial management, taxation, and licensing, allowing stakeholders to access financial and non-financial information.

Furthermore, e-governance has bridged the information gap between the government and citizens (G2C). Technology has facilitated consultations, allowing citizens to actively participate in policymaking and provide valuable inputs. Initiatives like SERVICOM track service delivery in various government agencies and gather feedback from the public, ensuring accountability and continuous improvement. Most government agencies now have websites and social media platforms, enabling effective communication with the public.

Role of PAOs in E-governance initiatives

It’s important to draw attention to the role that professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) can play supporting and promoting effective e-governance initiatives. By leveraging their expertise in financial management, auditing, and ethical standards, PAOs can contribute to the development and implementation of robust financial systems and processes within the public sector. PAOs play an active role in enhancing the skills of government officials involved in financial management, enabling them to navigate the complexities of e-governance systems and effectively utilize digital tools for financial transparency and accountability. PAOs are well positioned to provide guidance on risk management, internal audit practices, and compliance with regulatory requirements, ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of these systems.

In closing, e-governance initiatives in Nigeria have transformed governance, enhancing transparency, efficiency, and service delivery. To sustain these improvements, the government must continue implementing PFM reforms and e-governance initiatives while embracing regular institutional and legal reforms. Investing in supporting infrastructure, improving electricity supply, and changing negative perceptions will attract foreign direct investment and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Citizens should demand accountability and transparency from those in governance, fostering a culture of trust and responsible governance.

Alhaji Razak Jaiyeola

Alhaji Razak Jaiyeola became a member of the IFAC PAO Development & Advisory Group in January 2020. He was nominated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Mr. Jaiyeola is the Chief Consultant of A.J. Silicon as well as Managing Partner of Razak Jaiyeola & Co. He is a Past President of ICAN (2018/2019) and was a Council member of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA), Accounting Bodies in West Africa (ABWA), and Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria (APBN), as well as former Treasurer of Accounting Bodies in West Africa (ABWA). He is currently a member of the PAFA Projects Oversight Committee.

Mr. Jaiyeola is a member of Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and Certified in Risk and Information System Control.

As a member of the IFAC PAODAG, he helped ten professional accountancy organizations implement the PAO Digital Readiness Tool to gauge where they are on their digital journey using 11 pillars and 120 aspects of digital transformation. This work helped accelerate digital transformation to improve the delivery of their mandate.

Mr. Jaiyeola has served on several boards, including the Local Content Consultative Committee of National Electricity Regulatory Commission, and is currently a board member of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Business Group of Nigeria). He is a member of Offa Economic Development Committee as well as a Board member of One Innovation Hub Offa. He is also a member of Board of Trustees of MKO Abiola Gardens Residents Association.

Tanya Musumhi

Tanya Musumhi is an IFAC regional manager, responsible for the Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe regions. In this role, she helps IFAC’s member organizations and other professional accountancy organizations adopt and implement international standards and best practices and ensure the relevance and resiliance of the accountancy profession. Prior to her time at IFAC, Tanya was a grant capacity senior program manager at World Vision US.  

Tanya holds an MA in International Law and Economics from the World Trade Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland (2009) and an MA in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (2007).