For several decades ago, government-owned organisations have earned a reputation for poor performance, because of the way and manner which they were being managed. Government business is generally believed to be “no man’s business” and therefore their managers, although usually highly educated and eminently qualified people, end up running them aground.
In 1973, the Federal Treasury Training School was established in Lagos to train accountants and auditors working in the public service. As a major part of the mandate, it was to serve as the premier institution for developing human capacity in public finance management in the Nigeria. In 1991, following the relocation of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja, the school was moved to Abuja and consequently renamed Federal Treasury Academy (FTA). Its relocation to Orozo, a serene suburb on the outskirts of Abuja, was a major boost as to the revival of the Training school as it inherited newly constructed facilities.
However, owing to successive administration’s neglect, gross mismanagement of the meager resources, academic activities began to slow down and all the facilities deteriorated so much that the Academy could not even anchor the smallest fraction of its own mandate.
It is however heart-warming to note that a new song can now be sung for the Federal Treasury Academy Orozo, with the coming of the current Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris. Convinced of the significance of building adequate human capital and improving capacities of officers of the Treasury, the AGF had begun to turn things around for the good of the Academy. The current wave of improvements and upliftment from facilities decadence to facilities magnificence, academic inactivity to a gradual re-awakening of all faculties in the Academy is a clear testament of purposeful leadership.
On assumption of duty, the AGF had carried out a diagnostic review of the FTA and what will be done to reposition it for Academic excellence. Armed with these report, which are in consonance with the Economic and Governance Reform Project (EGRP) policy which started since 2009, has been given teeth by the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari, the AGF began to work, although silently.
With his frequent and unscheduled visits to the FTA, usually in company of friends of the Treasury, life has begun to return to the Academy. Interestingly, the place once referred to a “Siberia”, a place of punishment and suffering by staff who grieved their superiors is now becoming a place of attraction for both public and private institution who can now train their staff.
For most Treasury staff, it was difficult to know that such a transformation was going on at the FTA Orozo, especially as funds were not being spent from the office. Little wonder, the AGF was fulfilling his promise of leveraging on his goodwill to reach out to friends of the Treasury to come to the rescue of the academy.
So far, he has reconstituted the governing board and management of the School and taken other administrative steps to change its fortunes and to restore public confidence in the Academy. The School has been restored to the statutory budget line of the OAGF. This is a significant milestone achieved as funds would be available through the appropriation Act for the Academy. He has also embarked on a number the construction and reconstruction of the facilities at the academy.
It was, therefore, not surprising to many followers of the activities at the nation’s Treasury when it was recently reported that the AGF led members of the reconstituted board on familiarization and inspection of activities at the Treasury Academy.
The report captures results by the AGF to reposition the FTA to a center of academic excellence in providing public finance education in Nigeria. According to it, the construction and reconstruction of 2 Nos state-of-the-art fully furnished hostels for male and female students and a set classroom blocks.
Narrating further on the improvements in the last one year, the Acting Director of the Academy, Mr. Egbokhale Charity Kadiri, explained that the problem of power has been addressed with the donation of 275kva JMG generator and installation of the new transformer by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company. He further said that the School has received Laptop and Desktop Computers to enable them actualize their plans to establish an e-library.
On their part, members of the Governing Board commended the Accountant-General for the bold initiatives taken so far in addressing the infrastructural challenges of the academy and also praised its management for ensuring that good standards are maintained. They promised to work together with the AGF to uplift the status of the institution, to make it more attractive to both public and private organisations.
Already, efforts so far taken by the Accountant-General and the new management of the Academy in seeking the collaboration and partnership of some of the nation’s foremost professional accounting bodies , such Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, as well as the Chartered institute of Public Finance Accountants, in the UK, CIPFA, is repositioning the institution to compete apart from enabling it to offer qualitative education to public financial officers in the country in line with its original mandate.
As it stands, Federal Treasury Academy, Orozo is set on a new course, aimed at bringing quality and competent public finance managers in the MDAs, States and local Governments. This will help to step-up the present administrations
stride in improving transparency and accountability in governance.
Ifeanyi Okerekeis a Communications Officer with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.