The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on September 29 vowed that the House would take action against Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government that have failed to implement aspects of the budget for which funds have been allocated and released.
He made the House position known while addressing lawmakers in a welcome speech at the resumption of plenary after their annual recess.
Gbaja had said: “…There is an ongoing problem of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government failing to implement projects and programmes for which funds have been provided in the budget.”
“Any expenditure of public funds outside of the Appropriation Act is a crime, as is a failure to implement programmes and projects for which funds have been allocated and provided,” he added.
Gbaja’s warning speaks to the massive corruption that has overtaken various MDAs. It also paints a worrisome picture of how the scarce resources of the nation are systematically mismanaged and frittered away to the detriment of the masses.
It would amount to a waste of effort, having discovered this terrible act, for Gbaja and his colleagues to treat the issue with kid gloves. To name and shame the MDAs involved would be a clear signal that things can never remain the same, and that the House was fully committed to restoring accountability to governance. Of course, the process to accomplishing this is to institute a thorough investigation and follow through with prosecution of the officials involved.
The impact of such initiative is that it would serve as a deterrent to other MDAs intent on similar plans of defrauding the nation.
Beyond these reactionary efforts, however, is the need to evolve proactive strategies in the prevention of the systematic looting of the nation’s treasury. No gain saying the fact that it would amount to fighting the fire after the looters had made good their escape. The sad aspect of the Nigerian experience is that the thieving public officials turn around to fight the State with the stolen funds!
The expectation, therefore, is that the House will rise and be firm, not only in the pursuit of its oversight functions but also in the tinkering of legislations that would eliminate corruption at its roots.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“The government is doing this Operation Safe Corridor bringing in those people that tortured, killed, and maimed. The memory is still fresh in our mind because our people are still displaced, and then you say you’re bringing them back, pampering them and giving them start-up (capital)?”
Answer: See end of post.
Two other stories
Still on service chiefs
On September 30, the House of Representatives, again, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the nation’s security chiefs. Earlier on July 21, the Senate had adopted a resolution calling on the Service Chiefs to resign or risk being sacked for their inability to stem the wave of insecurity plaguing the nation.
This time, the House demanded that the President give effect to subsisting House resolutions on the matter in view of the rising cases of insecurity in the country. The resolution of the House was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion co-sponsored by Hon. Shehu Barwa Beji and Hon. Saidu Umar Doka.
Beji specifically pointed out that: “The unjustifiable retention of the Service Chiefs may be the cause of the lingering problem as their defensive strategies seem to be obsolete and must have outgrown further learning.”
The House call amplifies the opinion of individuals, groups and institutions. It also depicts the general frustration over President Buhari’s refusal to heed the many calls for the sack of the apparently underperforming Service Chiefs.
There is a temptation to think that the National Assembly is acting ambivalently in the face of Mr President’s perceived stubbornness. If not, why is the House failing to explore other options of holding Buhari accountable? Does it no longer enjoy the constitutional role of investigating how the presidency has deployed the billions of Naira placed at its disposal for the prosecution of the Boko Haram war?
The House should show that it cannot only bark but bite. In this regard, it would not be inappropriate to see the president, as Commander-in -Chief, asked to account for the one billion dollars approved on April 5, 2018 for the procurement of security equipment to fight insecurity.
September 29, a member of the House of Representatives, Simon Karu, made a shocking disclosure. He revealed that his colleagues in the lower chamber of the National Assembly receive a whopping sum of N8.5 million, apart from their salaries.
Karu said: “The official salary of a member, House of Representatives, which I also receive monthly is N800, 000. I told you I was going to say it; why don’t you wait for me to say it? The office running cost of a member of the House of Representatives is N8.5 million.”
Karu deserves a pat on the back for his revelations, as they bear eloquent testimony to the national demand for accountability and transparency in governance. If anything, his bold move is a challenge to other office holders across all arms of government, be it the legislature, executive or judiciary, to do the same.
The call to transparency couldn’t have come at a better time. With Nigeria’s revenue dropping by over 60%, it is expected that the drivers of the ship of State would go strong on cost saving measures. Would the nation’s leadership take the Karu challenge? This is one puzzle that only time can solve.
Answer: Ali Ndume
The statement was made by former Senate majority Leader, Ali Ndume, on July 29, 2020, while being interviewed on Channels Television. He was speaking on Federal Government’s Operation Safe Corridor programme meant to De-radicalise, Rehabilitate and Reintegrate (DRR) ‘repentant,’ former members of the Boko Haram sect.
By John Chukwu…
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