Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mr John Obaro clarified that Remita is not a company, contrary to the belief of many Nigerians, but a software platform through which government funds are remitted.
Systemspecs, according to him is a software house. “We have been in business for about 24 years, we support sound system; accounting software and we have human manager which is a home grown application,” he said.
Explaining the company’s emergence, he said, “In 2011, we were invited to participate in the process for the selection of the platform for the TSA. We bid with a local company, they looked at the foreign option and we were selected before the assignment.
“We started with payments in January 2012. That has been going on well because we started with about 116 MDAs which has increased to about 900 and there weren’t problems with the payment side.
“Issues came in when we were to start the collections. The collections were supposed to start January 2013 but didn’t happen until the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan gave an order early this year (2015) which ought to start in March, but started slowly until October when President Muhammadu Buhari gave his order and then, we now have a spike,” he explained.
The Systemspecs boss also clarified, “Payment is when government is paying out salaries to contractors while collection borders on when government is receiving funds into its account.”
Mr Obaro further explained that the idea of TSA was for government to have a view of all accounts. “About 17,000 accounts have been closed. We have put in place a system to keep track of all the MDAs, the accounts they have, and also manage each MDA independently.”
He gave an insight into the controversy surrounding Remita as raised by Senator Dino Melaye on the floor of the Senate.
“We respect the role of the National Assembly in oversight functionary, but the way the motion came was a bit harsh because we thought some judgments were made before full facts were available.
“Having said that, we have had the privilege of meeting with them to at least, shed some lights on what has been going on.
“Senator Melaye was right to raise an issue, the language may not have been right, I may not be comfortable, but I think its alright to raise issues of concern across any sector of the economy,” he said.
Senator Melaye had argued that the use of Remita was a violation of Section 162(1) of the constitution, which stated that “the federation shall maintain a special account to be called the federation account into which all revenues collected by the government of the federation except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the ministry or department of government charged with foreign affairs and the residents of the FCT, Abuja”.
He further stated that the CBN could only appoint a registered bank as an agent for collecting and disbursing the funds and that since Remita was not a bank, its appointment as a collection agent was in violation of the CBN Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2007.
The Systemspecs boss said, “The whole issue surrounds the charge of 1%. In fairness, the Senate commended the TSA as a project.
“In our contract, there was a clause that said the fee for collections will be agreed by all the parties; office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Commercial Banks and Systemspecs – the platform provider.”