…Asks NASS to make public its finances
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja
Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other
Related Offences Commission (ICPC) affirmed that corruption thrives
more in the Executive arm of government than the Legislature and the
Judiciary arms of government in Nigeria.
Owasanoye, according to Rasheedat Okoduwa, ICPC spokesperson, stated
this during a lecture titled: ‘The Legislature and fight against graft
and corruption’, during the two-week induction programme for
Senators-elect and Members-elect held in Abuja recently.
The ICPC boss based his assertion on the fact that the aggregate
budgetary allocations to MDAs year by year was more than the total
budgetary allocation accruing to the two arms of government, thereby
allowing corruption to thrive.
He said: “Corruption in the executive is far more than the Legislature
and Judiciary combined. This is because the executive spends a far
bigger chunk of the money appropriated.”
On the alleged outlandish allowances of members of National Assembly
and the controversial issue of constituency projects, Owasanoye
observed that the public perception of legislators as being corrupt
would not go away until the National Assembly throws open its yearly
budget to the public.
He stressed that the execution of the National Assembly budget which has
grown exponentially from N6.9 billion in 1999 to about N139 billion in 2018
for the same number of legislators has remained shrouded in secrecy thereby
giving room for allegations of abuse and misappropriation of the funds.
He said: “It is believed that we have the highest paid legislators
representing the poorest people in the world. Since 1999, NASS budget
has increased without defensible legal or moral justification.
“Without increase in membership and addition of only one or two
agencies, National Assembly budget grew from N6.9 billion 1999 to N139
billion in 2018.
“The problem is that it is just a single line item. The public is
hardly told the breakdown and how it is used. The criticisms will
disappear if we are told how it is spent,” he observed.
Owasanoye described corruption as the enemy of development and good
governance and the biggest challenge to Nigeria’s development, adding
that the Legislature must wake up to its role of oversight over
Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to curb the menace.
Owasanoye who took exception to the way National Assembly conducts its
statutory oversight on MDAs, noted that asking government departments
and agencies to fund the oversight was inappropriate.
According to him: “The power of oversight is largely impotent because
it has been commercialized, the Legislature is accused of passing the
cost to MDAs and of accepting other forms of gratification e.g.
foreign travels, phony seminars, etc. to look the other way.”
He enjoined the 9th National Assembly to move away from the presumed
norm and chart a new course which will, in the long run, aid the fight
against corruption even as he reiterated the readiness of ICPC to work
with the in-coming Legislators.
Some of the Senators-elect and Members-elect of the in-coming 9th
National Assembly also spoke at the event including Femi Gbajabiamila,
Majority Leader, House of Representatives, who told the gathering that
he had canvassed for a complete disclosure of the budget of the
National Assembly to put an end to the numerous accusations of
corruption being leveled against them.
He also spoke on Zonal intervention/Constituency projects saying that
monies were never given to them directly but that the concept was for
members and senators to nominate projects to be executed in their
constituencies to implementing MDAs.