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We settled over N100bn debts in 5 years - Ishiaku, Director of Treasury
• Urges contiguous state govts to remit FCT taxes and levies
2nd Mar, 2020

Director, FCT Department of Treasury, Alhaji Ismaila Jauro Ishiaku disclosed this in last week's exclusive interview with Abuja Digest Weekly Managing Editor, Stella Ojeme and Wisdom Acka. He bared his mind on very knotty financial and administrative issues, urged governments of neighbouring States to, in the spirit of reprocity, remit relevant taxes (PAYE) to FCT coffers, and also show appreciation to the FCT Minister for prompt remittance of such to their own revenue authorities. Not surprisingly, the hard working Ishiaku just before this interview was awarded Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe integrity leadership award by the Omeziri Ndigbo 1 Na Nigeria for exemplary leadership.
Details:
Abuja Digest Weekly: When many States are still foot-dragging on whether to pay or not to pay the new N30,000 minimum wage, the FCTA has not only paid but has cleared over N4billion arrears. What's the secret? How did you achieve the feat?
Ishiaku: I am very happy and grateful to you for choosing to conduct this interview this morning. For the sake of modesty, someone does not really know his achievements except those who are watching him. You are in a better position to know what we have achieved. All I know is that it is the Directors and Management of the FCTA that can judge whether the Treasury Department has met their expectations. But on my own part, I believe in dedication, commitment to duty, honesty and sincerity in all we do. Frankly speaking, the civil service is the instrument that implements government policies, and you know that the FCTA has not less than 26,000 staff, and each and every staff is being paid salaries regularly. They should be committed and determined to make sure that the policies of the Administration are implemented.

It's not easy for the Administration to watch over each and every individual and each of their assignments, so civil servants have the responsibility to ensure that whatever government policy is, and whatever budget is provided for them is channeled appropriately, and also ensure that progress is being seen by them, and that will translate into achievements of any Department.

So I try to come to work on time, use my skills and professionalism to ensure that I conduct myself in such a way that I want my staff to behave. Because the truth of the matter is, what you do is what your subordinates will also do. If you do bad, they will do worse. Coming to the minimum wage, even though you know the FCT is like one of the States of the Federation, we pay salaries from our own revenue.

We are not paid from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation. Nevertheless, the Minister is an appointee of the President, so we are part and parcel of the government in power (Federal Government). Any policy of the Federal Government is also the policy of the FCT Administration.

Accordingly, this FCT Administration found it necessary to implement the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) because it is one instrument that guarantees probity, accountability and actually it aligns the employment criteria with the payment of salaries. What that simply means is that whoever that is employed and given a letter, should equate to the list of people who are being paid salaries. In other words, any employee deserves to be paid salaries, except when he is on extradition.

Accordingly, this has made sure that the salaries that are being paid are paid to the right staff. So, the IPPIS is a welcome development. If there is any achievement I am proud of, it is the implementation of the IPPIS. And it has also been implemented on a timely manner because it is starting from January, 2020 and that has come when our 2020 budget has started; so our financial statement, our budget implementation for 2020 and the performance, especially on personnel cost, will be IPPIS- based.

So, that is to say that the actual number of staff will be known and the exact amount that will be paid to each and every staff and the total wage bill of the FCT Administration can be ascertained electronically at any time.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Have there been any savings made as a result of implementation of the IPPIS policy? In many organisations, especially government organisations, there is the issue of ghost workers; has the FCTA been able to weed out ghost workers? What have been the gains of the IPPIS?
Ishiaku: The truth of the matter is that IPPIS is not an audit-based instrument; so when you look at it from that angle, you are assuming that things are being done wrong, and there are manipulations and all that. But the way I look at IPPIS...it is an electronic payment system that guarantees staff salaries and also ensures that government also has value for its money. It also provides an opportunity to electronically know retirements of staff so that we do not continue to pay those who have already been out of service.

And appreciable deductions are being made and remitted, particularly deductions for health insurance, housing, loans and deduction of taxes are all done and remitted electronically, and that will reduce human mistakes and elements out of it. So, that is the way I look at IPPIS. But the gains that one will say have been achieved, frankly speaking, so far, we are just starting the exercise...what we paid this month is lower than what we had been paying before. But, of course, there are going to be teething problems of reconciliation; those who have not been captured, those captured who need to be verified in terms of dates of birth, records and the system itself.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Is that why we have some staff who have been paid and some who have not been paid their salaries?
Ishiaku: In this first time of the IPPIS payment, we expect initial problems, but I must say that so far, so good. The challenges we have found with the IPPIS are not even up to 10 to 20 per cent because most of the complaints I have received are that salaries are not equivalent to salary scale; but we are trying to look at it, to know if they were mistakes of higher payments and the IPPIS bringing them down, we will know. I think that is what the IPPIS is aimed to achieve.

Moreso, we will also find out if computations have not assigned the salary tables to appropriate cadres, or to the type of salary structures, particularly the specialized salary structures of doctors, nurses and even teachers, we will look at it. I think these are things that are natural to happen at the initial stage. I agree with you, so far, we have made some savings.

I am happy to say that the savings are appreciable, and maybe in the long run, more savings will be made, but I am happy we have made some progress. But there are other issues that I want to say that the IPPIS has addressed. The issues of overtime, professional allowances, casual workers, as well as other ancillary payments that were paid along with salaries in the past are not part of the salary structure now.

Abuja Digest Weekly: So how do you address such because there are some casual workers that the Administration still needs to retain their services to be able to make the wheel of progress move smoothly?
Ishiaku: My view about the issue of casual workers is that we need them but there are policies on casualization and I think Human Resource Department actually has to have a means of monitoring casualization of workers in the Secretariats, Departments and Agencies (SDAs). What I observed over the years is that, every Director that provides for casual workers in his budget goes ahead to just start getting casual workers. There is no central point to which the Administration will know the quantum of its casual workers and know the unified pay for them and to also know the limit to which the Administration should be able to spend for the total casual staffs in all the SDAs.

I am of the opinion that even if departments are recommending for casualization, there should be a central pool that will be able to look at the total number of casual workers and the amount the Administration should pay, otherwise the whole idea of IPPIS will be defeated, because while those who are regular staff are captured properly, since the IPPIS does not capture casual workers, then we will not allow casual employments to be so large that it eats from our budget. I think this is what I want to suggest. But accordingly, I feel that within the system, we have an ICT Section that captures staff; so I think that casual workers too should be captured. Our Department of Human Resource Management has a platform-staff identification that is being done. Let us capture the casual workers; whenever they are leaving, we know and whoever that is coming in, we also know, not by substitution that is been done presently to the extent that we don't even know who is a casual worker or who is not. I feel that the IPPIS system has not only given an opportunity for cost saving, it has also created a transparent and a more assured system of payment of salaries.

Abuja Digest Weekly: The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello talks about prompt payment of contractors with so much pride, and has done so much in this area that he's fondly referred to as Mr. Roads by the public. How has the FCTA been able to achieve this, successfully paying contractors and staff salaries?
Ishiaku: This is a very important question and I want to give you the answer from a layman's view. First and foremost, before you pay anybody, there must be a budget, and if your budget is well-thought out and you try as much as possible to make sure that the budget implementation becomes sincere and transparent, you are likely to achieve results.

It is important to know that budget includes revenue budget; so when you make revenue budget and you are able to see that you generate the revenue, and once you generate the revenue, then you can now expend that revenue. So if you have the money, you can now spend the money. The second aspect is President Muhammadu Buhari's directive.

He has constantly been advising that overhead expenditure should constitute a certain percentage...Of course, capital projects should be the priority and then, ongoing projects are the top priority, and also that overhead expenditure should be judiciously utilized so that there will be no waste or abuse. And once you control your recurrent expenditure, you are likely to have more funds that you can channel to capital projects. I am sure you will agree with me that the Hon. Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello is somebody who actually is firm, resolute, transparent and very prudent in management of resources. All expenses that need to be carried out under the current expenditure are being carried out 100 per cent with justification, and of course, wastages and leakages of resources have

been eliminated. And he has mandated the Treasury Department to watch it and ensure that every expenditure has justification. Additionally, the procurement process is aimed at making sure that there is value for money. So even the current expenditure, we subject them to full process of procurement and requirement of financial regulations. And I must say that our department too has come to identify with the policy of the Administration. We know the direction, so we are walking towards the direction. So, there are many factors -the budget is done in a balanced and sincere manner -and the second thing is the prudent management of overhead as directed by Mr. President and ensured by the Hon. Minister, and also the sincere implementation of such by the Department of Treasury. And also the cooperation we have received from the Directors, Departments and Agencies.

So, coming to the prompt payment of capital projects themselves, we have a transparent cash management system. The Minister directed that fund allocation should be done based on the total matured bills and those matured bills will be viewed and reviewed. Those critical projects that are priority and are ongoing are given appropriate funding. Also, those projects that will impact on the lives of citizens and will make Abuja the city of our dreams are also being given top priority. I must say that he has also made it a policy that all contractors that have payments of N100 million and below are constantly allocated money for that purpose.

You can now see that major projects, especially in education sector, such as building of schools, provision of furniture; and even in the hospitals, such as renovation, maintenance, procurement of basic equipment, these contractors fall within that limit. And also these are the contracts that are actually impacting on youth empowerment. So since he came, any bill that is N100 million and below, that has been duly certified and presented as a liability to the Treasury, receives the Hon. Minister's approval and are being paid. We have never had any petition or complaint from any of these contractors. That is why you cannot see contractors on the corridors of the Treasury Department. I must commend the Minister for this.

And for the major contractors of major roads in the city such as B6, B12, Southern Park Way, Galadimawa to CBN Junction, the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Expressway, and many other roads in the city, are being funded. The only challenge that has been there, which people may not understand, is that there were huge liabilities to these contractors that had not being paid before the coming of this government, and this government had to battle with two challenges: moving the projects forward while also making the contractors settle the previous liabilities.

It's a concurrent issue, so to get the contractors to be on site after they have been paid money, while there are liabilities...some will just collect the liabilities and will not be mobilized, but I think that is where this Administration made its own significant progress. This Administration came and met over N150 billion. That was even the bills that were certified for payment, liabilities that have been certified outstanding, apart from the other ones generated before that were in the process. So, I think the Administration has been able to reduce the liability to less than N40 billion now, and has been promptly paying contractors' matured bills. And also, if you look at it, the Administration has been able to advertize for contracts in order to meet expansion of the city and provide equipment to existing departments to make sure that services are provided, especially in the fields of sanitation, traffic management, social development, welfare, as well as youth empowerment.

These areas have actually been contracted so the government has done three things at the same time: settling previous liabilities, paying for ongoing projects and making sure that critical services needed to move the government forward are those that pass through procurement process. So, the achievements under Malam Muhammad Musa Bello are monumental. You can only appreciate the level of achievement of the government when you know the level of liability that had been piled up in the past that it (Bello Administration) has gotten the contractors paid, because they are the same contractors....they will collect your money and will not go to site until they are assured of paying liabilities and we did that concurrently, without even ignoring the smaller contractors. This is a great achievement.

Equally too, this government has not delayed payment of salaries. Never! Salaries have been paid as and when due, with extremely minimal complaints. In fact, the level of lack of complaints makes you feel as if you are overdoing it. Frankly speaking, the Minister never delays signing of salary. If you take the salaries to him in the morning, before 12 o'clock, he has signed it. Same thing applies to the Permanent Secretary, Sir Chinyeaka Christian Ohaa.

Once I hold the salary files and get to his office, he collects it while I am standing and signs. Their commitment to payment of staff salary is unflinching. The Minister has so much trust in the staff of Treasury Department and his confidence is translated into how early he has been signing the salary. So, I think the government has achieved so much: payment of contractors, regular payment of salaries; and I don't want to talk too much because we have not come to that, but when you talk about salaries, you are talking about so many things combined -you are talking about pension deductions and payment of pensions, health insurance, deductions for remittance to Federal Mortgage Bank for staff housing issues, as well as remittance of pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) and you know that the PAYE that is being deducted here is remitted to FCT-IRS. Earlier on, we were sending to Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), and there has never been any complaint. In fact, we are always the first to pay.

Before the FCT-IRS board was inaugurated, the Minister, in one of the meetings with members of the National Assembly, said it would be illegal for us to be remitting to FIRS, so he asked us to be keeping the amount in a dedicated account. So for almost seven months, the money was kept in the account and we remitted the lump sum to FCT-IRS. But I also want to commend the Hon. Minister for doing what ordinarily some states conflict with one another. You see, when you are running a state, especially when it is a city-state, and you have some contiguous states that have towns nearby and you find out that some of your staff are resident in those states...and the tax policy is clear -you pay tax at places of residence.

So, if somebody is resident or domiciled in Nasarawa or Niger States, his taxes are supposed to be there. Therefore, the Hon. Minister has mandated that the rule of law and due process should be followed. Each staff who has declared his state of residence, his PAYE should be remitted to those states. Now we have started the IPPIS, but up to end of December, 2019, we have being remitting to these contiguous states.

I am even surprised that the Inland Revenue Services of these States do not commend the Minister for this. I think the contiguous States should appreciate the FCTA. Knowing what the tax law says, the Minister directed that the tax law should be complied with, and then, the Treasury also, through nominal roll, takes note of places of residence of staff and pays directly to the tax authorities of those States.

And also, it is now assumed that, any staff who is domiciled in Nasarawa State, to which his PAYE goes, if he wants to make tax clearance for any purpose, he is not likely to get it from the FCT-IRS because his name may not be there. So acknowledgement of that fact is for those people who may need tax clearance for land or any other purposes. On the other hand, it is also my feeling that even if it is artisans or people working with the Federal Medical Centre, or even students who are doing their part-time or lecturers of Nasarawa State University that are domiciled here (FCT), they are supposed to pay PAYE. I think we need equivalent sense of commitment, fairness and equity by Governors of the contiguous States to the Hon. Minister.

Even if it is one person, let them be seen to be committed to this and other issues can be resolved through reconciliation. They also have a duty to identify who is the resident in their States. FCTA cannot map out census of persons living in those States, but they can because they provide water and other utilities so they are in a better position to know where someone is resident; so they have a duty to give us the information also. It is at the instance of the Minister that we are identifying our workers who are there and we are constantly asking the staff...from their record forms and wherever they fill as places of domicile, we pay to those places. And some of these staff, when their fortunes increase, they move to the FCT, so there is need for reconciliation.The FCTA has actually been doing its best to make

sure that they conform with what the rules say, but we need collaboration with these States -Nasarawa and Niger, and probably Kogi State- because workers of Area Councils in the FCT, especially Abaji Area Council live in trans-border settlements. We will work with them; there is nothing wrong with that. We don't want to short-change anybody, and the Hon. Minister is very clear about multiple taxation. He doesn't want double or multiple taxation of investments of citizens.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Your explanation on taxation and all boils down to the issue of revenue. Has this or does this deplete FCTA revenue? How does FCTA shore up its revenue and what has been the exact figure the FCTA has been able to generate?
Ishiaku: The use of ICT to be very frank, is top on the agenda. All our revenue-generating agencies should conform to modernity. The level of revenue collection nowadays is reducing human interface. Secondly, the government has actually done its best in increasing the minimum wage, meaning that staff cannot hide under lack of motivation because the amount so agreed is a negotiated amount, so it's not the issue of how much it is. The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, leaders of the workers, have agreed on the amount that is acceptable, that can make the worker to be productive.

On a very serious note, when you talk about revenue leakage or lack of revenue drive, frankly speaking, these are human elements, and I believe that the government has increased minimum wage, therefore we expect commitment to the revenue drive will be enhanced. Additionally, most of the revenue-generating agencies in the FCT needed autonomy for them to be effective, and significantly, you can see that they have almost all the autonomy they needed.

The AEPB (Abuja Environmental Protection Board) has its own board, with duly appointed Chairman. They can take their own decisions, and the Department itself reports to the board, and also, the Administration is providing enough in the budget for them. Then you look at FCT Water Board too; there is a Chairman, the title of Director there has been changed to General Manager, and if they can have that physical change, it means that the financial change too should be greater. I think the Administration has put so much in place for the revenue agencies.

And even the Directorate of Road Traffic Service (DRTS) too; their collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps especially on production of the vehicle number plate and drivers' license, you can see the revenue that is coming. One of the major revenue-generating agencies of the FCTA is the DRTS. They are on the rise and about to be the best, and we could be able to access and monitor their activities. And most importantly, the FCT-IRS. It has a Chairman, has its revenue, has its budget. It has everything that will make it work. I must point out that its budget is self-sustaining and significant enough, and they should now venture into the Area Councils to make sure that they collect all the taxes and levies that are due to State government.

Also, to make sure the PAYE of local government workers is remitted to the FCTA, because the PAYE of local government workers is supposed to come to the FCT-IRS, and being a new board, they are supposed to come with new ideas. The Chairman is a person from the private sector who is well experienced and should bring all these things to bear. I think these are key areas that will generate revenue.

But most importantly, the judicious utilization of this revenue really matters a lot, because no matter how much you collect, there is so much to spend on, and usually everybody's expenditure is higher than his income; so you must deploy resources appropriately. And that is where this Administration has really been significant. So, even though these agencies are autonomous, we keep on sending monitoring officers to also make sure that their remittances are 100 per cent because we don't want them to start leaving some balances in their accounts without remitting fully.

Treasury is just a Department. The size of the Treasury needs to be expanded to cope with some of these requirements because to go out and look at over 100 revenue heads in, for example, the FCT-IRS alone, is quite herculean, and if you go to FCT Water Board, they have many revenue heads, the same thing with DRTS, AEPB and even Education Secretariat. All these heads can be gingered to generate revenue.

Moreso, those little fees that are coming to Education Secretariat that are appropriate, we are interfacing with them and whatever that is due to government as normal fees, we expect Education to give the information for the knowledge of top executives to decide whether to find a way of giving some waivers or to add some fees in order to achieve certain objectives. If you go to some of our schools, especially the Senior Secondary Schools under the Secondary Education Board, honestly speaking, the sanitation, maintenance of structures, basic things, including landscaping or beautification and flowering of the offices, even our national flags in these schools, need to be up to date because they make impression of the place. All these things need to be looked at.

So, this issue of revenue, the Hon. Minister is trying his best. Last year (2019), the actual total revenue of the FCTA, including federation allocation, was about N220 billion, against our budget of N243 billion, which was a near-balanced budget. This time around, with the new revenue drive and the directive of Mr. President that all revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government and the FCT should increase the drive by coming up with strategies and modalities of improving their revenues, and with the committee we have set, and with monitoring officers on ground, as well as procurement of utility vehicles, we hope to see significant increase in our revenue.

Abuja Digest Weekly: You mentioned that the Treasury Department needs to be expanded to take up the task of monitoring activities of revenue-generating agencies of the FCTA. What measures have you put in place to enhance it and what is your recommendation to the FCTA? Should the Treasury Department be expanded to a Secretariat or Directorate or what? What do you hope the FCTA helps you leave as a legacy as you are about retiring from service?
Ishiaku: As you rightly said, I am on my way out, so whatever I say now will be a dream. But the reality is that, I have been able to have some achievements in the Treasury as an individual and as a Department, and in the course of our discussion, I will tell you what has been done to turn the Treasury around. But the issue of how the Treasury can be, I have already given you my view that, in order to cope with the economic situation in the country, and the directive of Mr. President to ensure that revenues are generated, and as much revenue as are generated, due process and accounting process to ensure that this huge revenue is expended should apply. It means that there is more work in monitoring and supervision to enhance this, as well as proper auditing, ensuring that due process is followed.

So definitely, the Treasury that was created in 2006, along with few Secretariats, the Treasury is much older than some of these Secretariats, and yet it has remained so. It has squeezed, it has not allowed for growth of even the staff. It has not allowed the Department to have structures. And of course, you can see that in Agriculture (Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat), they created five Departments five years ago, and those Departments now have budget heads to carry out assignments. But now in the FCT Treasury, you have only one Department; so if the Treasury is enlarged, you are likely to have greater responsibilities with more officers and, to some extent, some budgetary lines to carry out some of the responsibilities. Now, look as us buying vehicles from a lean budget, and we made sure that we conserve money from other expenses within our envelopes to provide for the vehicles. We scavenged a little bit from purchase of stationeries, computer consumables, trainings on even IPPIS and IPSAS, to make sure that we get the revenue for the benefit of all the Secretariats, Departments and Agencies and for the honour and pride of the Administration.

But if the Treasury is enlarged, legitimate budgetary funding for some functions will be authorized; even if it is to have few additional Departments. I think as an individual, I reserve my recommendation, but I will say one thing: over the years, there have been committees set up to look into the structure of the FCTA. So even before the Department of Economic Planning, Research and Statistics was created, the structure of Finance and Investment has always been on the ground; I don't know why.

But FCT is a work in progress. A lot of bills are being put to the National Assembly to see that some outfits, as small as they are, because they say they are statutory, they are being passed. So you should find out whether the FCT Treasury also can meet the criteria. But the truth of the

matter is that financial management and auditing in the FCT, as large as it is, is very important, otherwise a lot of things will be happening in the SDAs and if you don't have very dogged and thorough officers heading these two Departments, the controls will be overwhelming. Not only the controls of budget, but there are loans from debt management and the FCTA is borrowing from other bilateral relations with other countries through agreements with the Federal Government. Even the local liabilities of contractors are actually debts, so managing these and ensuring that those debts do not keep on ballooning, requires so much, and when you reduce these debts, you don't want somebody to increase them. Frankly speaking, these achievements for them to be sustained, we need a Treasury that is not distracted, so a level-headed leadership is required. To me, I observe that there is need to get the Treasury expanded.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Do you see the making of some of your lieutenants as Directors as a step in that direction?
Ishiaku: Well, promotion has criteria. I don't know whether to make a bigger body they promote in advance. That is for Human Resource Management Department to know. I don't know whether chicken and egg which one should come first. But the truth of the matter is that all the officers we have in the Treasury, especially the ones that you are talking about, are really thoroughbred. I am going; there is no reason for eye service or sweet talk. They are very skillful officers. The successes that we have achieved in Treasury today are attributed to them. And to a very large extent, they are very loyal, because if there has been conflict from any of the officers, there is nobody in this Administration that will be at peace, because a lot of things would be said that are false and would scare everybody.

There would have been so many things that would bring in the external bodies to come and find out whether they are true or false, things that are not palatable to the government and a lot of bad image would have been created, despite the fact that they are not true. I must say that their level of loyalty, commitment to duty, confidentiality -keeping of oath of secrecy is exemplary and must be commended. And sometimes, criteria for promotion, I don't think it is only when you must have been in an office for more than four years that you are due to be promoted. There must have been reasons why some people are not promoted…but use of other parameters such as knowing the job, having the institutional memory, commitment and transparency and even lack of crisis in the Treasury over time, should be encouraged.

And you know, we are in a country where change is being encouraged, from living a lifestyle that is so ostentatious to a realistic living standard, and you know people working in places like this, seeing it all and have chosen to take this course of the philosophy and views of government, I commend them. On what the Treasury has done to turn things around, with the coming of this Administration, it was very clear that everybody in the Treasury got the signal and as the head, I got a very bright signal that came to me that there was zero tolerance on mishandling of financial activities and strict adherence to the core principles of Treasury Single Account (TSA), which is to promote accountability and transparency in the Treasury's financial management and to strengthen various controls in the Treasury Department.

So, proficient and diligent accountants were sent to various control units to support areas of votes and budget performance. Another important thing we do in the Treasury is holding of regularly and prompt management meetings because we observe that some Departments don't see monthly management meeting as important. But these meetings create friendship, disabuse minds on gossips and rumours. They also give opportunity for officers to be confident and open up to their superior officers, and also provide opportunity for the head to provide reasons why he or she has taken certain decisions. It also provides in-house training.

The Department also placed emphasis on monitoring of account systems of the SDAs and building a robust documentation system for them and we also constantly collaborate with relevant Federal Government agencies such as the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and Ministry of Finance. We also try to cooperate with Public Accounts to make sure that whatever they require, we try to do so; that there is no delay that could send wrong signals as if we are covering up.

No organization or human being can be perfect, but they know that normal human operational lapse is different from deliberate actions. And of course, regular monitoring and budget tracking among several others are the reasons why we succeed. I wish to point out that Treasury is not this building that you see. It is the accounting activities of all the SDAs, including non-governmental funding and grants to the FCT...the Treasury should be a wizard that ensures funds are available, but not one that succumbs to every file that comes in. That's the philosophy.

Abuja Digest Weekly: What next for Ismaila Ishiaku, are you going to politics, are you going to farm or are you going to relax, eat and sleep?
Ishiaku: (general laughter) You that knows me! The way I hold on to payments, do you see me as a politician with open hands But on a very serious note, retired or retiring from FCTA does not mean retiring from Abuja. And also we have been praying to have long life after retirement from active service. With the experience and knowledge that we have, it will be very unfair of us if we do not assist the Administration outside service to make sure that things go well because we are also citizens and stakeholders, and more stakeholders because we have been employees, we know the problems, we know the challenges and we know the commitment of government, and even outside we are still staff, because in one form or the other, we are still benefiting from government, even if it is pension we are been paid or even if it our former benefits that has been in our saving accounts that we are feeding from, definitely means that you cannot allow the system you have left to go bad when you see something.

Even if it is reporting to appropriate office. If you are friendly with some of your retired colleagues and you have the talents, you can always share ideas, make suggestions and recommendations. After all, the ones we are leaving behind are our juniors and we trained them so if we see them failing and fold our arms that we have retired, the consequence of their bad actions will destroy the legacies we have put in place.

Personally, I am happy that I look energetic, at 60 and you can see I am reading without reading glasses, so I think we should use the remaining quantity and quality of the eyes to watch and assist you people in the service. So I pray that everybody ends well, and I pray that the success of the Administration should be a thing to make any FCTA staff, retired, retiring and existing staff, proud to say they are in FCT. And I that everybody. I am very happy and really surprised at the cooperation and support the SDAs have given, despite the transformation this Administration has brought.
Abuja Digest Weekly: May be you will become a traditional ruler like some directors retired and became?
Ishiaku: (laughs) I will not become a traditional ruler. I am a chartered accountant so I will be auditing your books.

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