Gombe State, Nigeria, September 20, 2023 – In a remarkable feat of fiscal management, the Federal Government of Nigeria has successfully recovered an astounding sum of N5.2 trillion in aggregate debt from ten Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) through its innovative ‘Project Light House Programme.’ The announcement was made by Aisha Omar, the Director of Special Projects at the Ministry of Finance, during a one-day sensitization program for the North-East Geopolitical Zone in Gombe State on Tuesday.
The debts in question came to the forefront through data aggregated from over 5,000 debtors across the ten MDAs. Project Light House, a pioneering initiative, was designed to tackle the persistent issue of debt recovery by harnessing the power of big data analytics technology.
Aisha Omar explained the primary focus of Project Light House, stating, “The core focus of Project Light House is to leverage big data technology to help block revenue loopholes, identify new revenue opportunities, optimize existing revenue streams, especially non-oil revenue, and improve fiscal transparency.”
She went on to emphasize that the initiative’s essence was the recovery of debts owed to the Federal Government by individuals and companies, utilizing the debt recovery capabilities of the Project Light House engine.
Representing the Director, Bridget Molokwu, Deputy Director of the Special Projects Department at the Ministry, highlighted that the system collects, integrates, and analyzes data from revenue-generating agencies to provide insightful information for improved decision-making in debt recovery.
Molokwu emphasized the importance of the project, including leveraging big data technology to block revenue loopholes, identify new revenue opportunities, optimize existing revenue streams, especially non-oil revenue, and enhance fiscal transparency.
One significant revelation was that many companies and individuals who owed government agencies and failed to meet their obligations were still being paid, particularly through government platforms such as GIFMIS and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), due to a lack of visibility over such transactions.
“These debts took various forms,” Molokwu explained, “including debt liabilities to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), refunds to the Government by companies that failed to deliver on projects for which payment had been effected, unpaid credit facilities granted to both corporate entities and individuals by the Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA), judgment debts in favor of the Government, and debts owed to the Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) by insurance companies, among others.”
She emphasized that the debt recovery process would not only reduce the country’s indebtedness but also enable the tracking of day-to-day revenue generation, provide an accurate profile of the debt recovery portfolio, and plug revenue leakages and loopholes.
Abraham Atteh, a Project Consultant, added that the program’s primary objective was to track, retrieve, and recover government debts. He stressed that every entity doing business with the government would be held accountable for debts owed, and systems would be implemented to prevent future loopholes created by these entities.
In conclusion, it is evident that the Federal Government’s Project Light House Programme is not only helping Nigeria recover substantial debts but also revolutionizing debt management and fiscal transparency through cutting-edge technology. This remarkable achievement underscores the government’s commitment to responsible financial stewardship and accountability in its dealings with individuals and corporate entities.
The success of Project Light House is a testament to the transformative power of big data analytics in public administration. By leveraging technology and data-driven insights, the government has not only recovered a significant amount of debt but has also laid the foundation for a more efficient and transparent fiscal management system.