By Emmanuel Afonne
The Buhari-Osinbajo campaign group `No Alternative To Buhari-Osinbajo (NATBO 2019)’ has called for the strengthening of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) as local government councils move towards financial autonomy.
National Coordinator of the group, Vincent Uba said in a statement on Sunday that there was need for the federal government to strengthen the NFIU going by its latest directives that seek to sanitise, restore and move the country to a glorious future.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the federal government recently carved out NFIU from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with designed guidelines to ensure financial independence for local government councils.
NAN also reports that the new financial guidelines unveiled in Abuja on May 6 by NFIU and expected to be effective from June 1, among others directed that no cash withdrawal in excess of N500, 000 per day should be made.
Uba, while urging government to give NFIU all the support it needed to succeed, applauded the recent directive, noting that it would help to monitor local government accounts to avoid diversion of funds by state governors.
“This is indeed a very welcome development, since we are all witnesses to what has been going on in our local governments which have remained a shadow of themselves from what they used to be in the past.
“The NFIU found that the cash withdrawal and transactions from the state and joint local government accounts posed the biggest corruption, money laundering and security threats to the country especially at the grassroots levels.
“Before now, the creation of joint local government account gave the governors control of local government funds. The financial autonomy of this third tier of government disappeared and most state governments routinely diverted the funds allocated to the local governments.
“One cannot but be happy for this turn of events as the local government can finally be free from the hegemony of the governors who hitherto saw the local government funds as free money.
“A new lease of life has consequently come to the local governments and with this development, the people can hold local government chairmen accountable for the implementations of campaign promises,” Uba said in the statement.
He commended the approach taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government in the trial of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, noting that it had justified the confidence and faith reposed in the present government.
“Indeed the heightened expectation of the citizenry of a renewed anti- graft fight by the Buhari-led government has not been misplaced.”
President Buhari signed the NFIU Bill into law in July 2018, after which it seized to exist as a department in the EFCC.
Read also: Senate clears way for NFIU autonomy