The Senate, on Wednesday, urged the 36 states governments and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to fully implement the new Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU)’s guidelines for the promotion of good governance at the grassroots levels.
It also called on all financial institutions to support the implementation of the guidelines of the NFIU with diligence and professionalism.
This followed the adoption of the motion by Sen. Aliyu Sabi (Niger) titled: ”Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and Local Government Finances” at a plenary presided over by Senate President Bukola Saraki in Abuja.
Moving the motion, Sabi who represents Niger North Senatorial District, explained that the new NFIU guidelines came as a result of the threats by international financial watchdogs to sanction Nigeria for alleged financial abuses.
Part of the guidelines according to the lawmaker which will come into practice by June 1, will limit cash transactions in the accounts of local governments to a daily maximum withdrawal of N500,000 only.
”The new guidelines further provided that subsequent withdrawals must be by approved cheques or electronic payment channels to promote registered transactions by all the local governments,” he said.
The legislator, who is the Senate spokesman, emphasised that part of the advantages of the NFIU guidelines was to forestall suspicious transactions for terrorism-prone areas.
He further said that adherence to the guidelines would check vices of terrorism, proliferation of small arms, kidnapping, ethnic violence, cattle rustling and provide credible intelligence for law enforcement and national security.
In their contributions, majority of the lawmakers supported the motion.
They argued that the local governments across the country should be given full autonomy in order to rescue the third tier of government from being an appendage of the state over their monthly allocations provided by the Federal Government.
The legislators also urged the state assemblies to support constitutional amendment that would deepen democracy at the local government level as envisaged in the constitution.
However, Sen. Jona Jang (Plateau) faulted the intellectual capacity and financial discipline of some local government chairmen, particularly in the north, to manage the monthly allocations, saying that most of them were not properly educated, and therefore, unfit to manage the funds.
When the motion was put on a voice vote by the Senate President, Saraki, it was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.
The Senate therefore urged the Federal Government to urgently fund the operations of the NFIU to be able to earn the confidence and trust of Nigerians and its international partners.
It also agreed that the NFIU’s guidelines would reinforce the existence of local governments as an independent government established by the constitution at the grassroots level, with sovereign and elected officials directly from the people for their protection and welfare.
edited by Sadiya Hamza