LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT AND CORRUPTION

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) has empowered the National Assembly in section 88 to by a resolution published in its journal or the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into:                                 

1(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and

(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, Ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for:

executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly; and

disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

2        The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to:

make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and

expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence  and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

Therefore, it is mandatory for Standing Committees of the National Assembly to exercise oversight of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs to assess policy objectives and implementation strategies; identify lapses and factors inhibiting successfully implementation of projects; advice on improvement; and identify misapplication and mismanagement of funds. Reports of oversight visits are expected to be presented in plenary of the two chambers and if need be, the provisions of Section 88 of the Constitution evoked for full investigation.

Regrettably, since the return to democratic rule in 1999, oversight of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs by Committees of the National Assembly have been ineffective in exposing corruption and waste in the public sector. Serious allegations of committees members demanding for example, MDAs to fund their local or foreign trips or to provide funds for public hearings, and solicit contracts among others, from the same MDAs they are expected to oversee has negative effect of diminishing the role of the National Assembly in promoting good governance. It also undermines the principle of checks and balances in the conduct of governmental affairs.

Furthermore, the budget approval process has been adjudged by members of the public to be less transparent. Allegations of committees conniving with MDAs by “burying” huge sums of money in the budget with a view to retrieving same after the budget has been passed and signed into law abound. Budget hearings have become mere rituals and do not guarantee judicious deployment of scarce resources to the most felt needs of citizens nor promote transparency and accountability.

Equally worrisome, is the incessant fight of members of the National Assembly over the so called “juicy committees”. Section 62 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as Amended) empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives to appoint a committee of its members for such special or general purpose… and delegate any functions exercisable by it to any such committee. Therefore, “juicy committee(s)” is strange to our constitution and in conflict with the expected role of committees as envisaged by the Constitution.

In other jurisdictions, committee assignments are perceived by a legislator as opportunity to offer meritorious service to one’s country.  The Nigerian experience has shown that private gains as against national service  is a major factor in the constant fight on the floor by legislators over the so called “juicy committees” There is clearly conflict of interest between self gains and national service. Flowing from the above, it can be asserted without fear of contradiction that failure of legislative oversight in Nigeria is responsible for the massive corruption and impunity in the public service.

Indeed, the numerous investigative hearings conducted by committees of the National Assembly whether in the power sector, aviation, petroleum subsidy, capital market, etc., are pointers of failure of legislative oversight. Committees as the engine house of their respective chambers should be proactive in exposing corruption, inefficiency or waste in the public sector and not wait for things to happen before commencing investigations.

The President of the Senate Bukola Saraki was quoted recently lamenting that “poor oversight by the National Assembly caused the financial scandal of the former National Security Adviser, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki.” Pointing out that “if the Senate committees on National Security and Intelligence as well as the one on defence had performed their Constitutional roles on monitoring and investigating how funds allocated to that sensitive area had been utilised, the nation will not be witnessing the mind boggling stories that are coming out.” Therefore, the President of the Senate advised committees “to take their duties more seriously to prevent the high rate of abandoned projects and fraudulent tendencies of government officials.” (Daily Trust, December 16, 2015)

It is only time that will tell whether the wise counsel of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has been heeded by committees of the National Assembly. Let us pray!!!

 

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Nigerians Take a Stand Now

The political campaigns in Nigeria have brought to the limelight serious challenges facing our country. It is unbelievable that the political campaigns are loaded with hate messages aimed at causing disaffection among Nigerians. Religion, ethnicity, cultural differences have been exploited to the most ridiculous level that one wonders whether the damage being done to our nation will ever be reversed after the elections have come and gone. It is painful to know that politicians have taken Nigerians for granted over the years. They have exploited, divided and ruled us for their selfish interests. They have no interest in ensuring good governance and development of Nigeria. Indeed, they lack the capacity to conduct issue-based campaigns; hence the resort to religion and ethnicity as a platform for securing cheap support. This has been the trend since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

The Cabal that is fighting for the soul of Nigeria has no integrity, morality and credibility. Campaigns using derogatory and despicable language, which is strange to all known Nigerian cultural values have taken the center stage. Which Nigerian cultural norm promotes death wish for a political opponent or derision over the deaths of family members.

The PDP campaign groups are so desperate to have its candidate returned to Aso Villa and are ready to do anything. just anything in the name of supporting the incumbent President. They have for example; widely circulated a medical report on the health status of General Muhammadu Buhari purported to have been obtained from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. The hospital has since disassociated itself from the report and further stated that the so-called doctors who appended their signatures to the report are not on their payroll.

Recently, African Independent Television (AIT) and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) transmitted a documentary full of inaccuracies with the sole aim of destroying the APC Presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari. Even though the National Broadcasting Code for elections provides to the contrary:

4.2.2 Broadcaster shall:

(a) Not broadcast a programme which violates social value, shows disrespect for law and order departs from an honourable life-style;

(g) avoid the use of foul and blasphemous language;

5.1.6 Archival or library materials where used to illustrate a current event, shall be used with discretion and clearly identified to avoid confusion or causing emotional pain, offence, embarrassment or defamation.

5.2.5 Political broadcast shall be in decent language.

5.2.7 A broadcaster shall, in using a political material for news, avoid taking inflammatory and divisive matter in its provocative form;

5.3.6 A live broadcast shall take cognisance of the cultural and religious sensibilities of all Nigerians and avoid offensive inputs.

The question that begs for an answer is whether the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (APN) have lived up to expectation by sanctioning stations that have been violating  the broadcasting code with impunity. As rightly observed by the Veteran broadcaster Dr. Tom Adaba that” We cannot seat back, arms folded, looking the other way and pretending all is well. Let the truth be told, we have simply behaved as if there is no tomorrow for Nigeria. The campaigns or advertisement of mudslinging and derision, which we have allowed to appear on the screens, have not been helpful to the course of this nation. It has indeed helped to divide us as a people. If we preach hate we shall reap hate and destruction, if we preach love and peace well shall reap same” (Sunday Trust 21nd February, 2015 P.36)

During the Presidential media chart held at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday 11th February 2015 President Jonathan referred “… to the attempt to pelt the Presidential convoy by young, ignorant people, as treasonable offence….” Although  the action is condemnable, it was most revealing  when asked as to whether he was not worried by the threat of war by his kinsmen if he is not re-elected. President Jonathan simply responded that his government will make sure that things are done “in such a way that nobody goes to war. We will not encourage anybody to destroy this country. We must protect this country and those who support us must not destroy this country.”   The threat of war by his kinsmen to destroy Nigeria is indeed a treasonable offence, even though President Jonathan refused to condemn Asari Dokubo and co-travellers as he did in the case of the “young, ignorant people” in Katsina State. (Daily Trust 12th February, 2015 P.5).

Dame Patience Jonathan in a recent outburst  in Calabar during a political campaign told Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters “Anybody That Tells You Change, Stone That Person!”

Nigerians Take a Stand Now to Save Our Country from Destruction.

Nigerians Vote Wisely

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega has since the postponement of the February 2015 general elections in Nigeria come under series of unwarranted attacks from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its faceless supporters. It is unfortunate that the very Government that appointed Professor Attahiru Jega is leading the campaign of calumny against him.

The GOODLUCK Lagos group and the Director General of PDP Presidential campaign organisation, Senator Ahmadu Ali have questioned the readiness of INEC to conduct free and fair elections; while the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) led by Chief Edwin Clark has called for the resignation of the Chairman and arrest on the grounds that he intends to rig elections in favour of the North. Indeed, men and women of integrity may in future reject national assignments, so as not to be rubbished by self-serving groups.

Nigerians have opined that the postponement of the general elections is just the tip of the iceberg of subterranean maneuvers aimed at rubbishing the image and integrity of Professor Jega so as to have reasons to execute the second phase of the agenda which include among others; removal of the INEC boss, bribing the National Assembly members to extend the tenure of the present elected officials to six months in the first instance and subsequently for a period of two years due to insecurity.

The PDP government has failed to realise that Nigerians are fed up with the rot and the decay that has continued to pledge this country. Unfortunately, those in the corridors of power who are benefiting from the system have held President Goodluck Jonathan hostage. The President is therefore, out of touch with the pains, frustrations and failed aspirations of Nigerians especially the youths. Instead, the PDP government has instituted mediocrity, impunity, greed, nepotism, primitive stealing of public funds, religious bigotry, indecorous behaviour, use of abusive language and elimination of political opponents. Nigerians have helplessly watched the locusts destroy our beloved country.

The 2015 elections therefore, is not about President Goodluck Jonathan or General Muhammadu Buhari. It is about the future and survival of Nigeria.

Nigerians use your Vote wisely.

Nigerians Deserve A Better Deal

The elections are here again and politicians are out in the field crisscrossing the country canvassing  for votes from the electorate using fair and foul means to outwit one another. The history of politics in Nigeria since the First Republic (1960) indicate that mudslinging rather than issue based campaigns has been the norm. It is not sixteen years since the return to  democratic rule. Regrettably,  the content and quality of  the ongoing political campaigns have remained hollow. Rather than canvass support on how  they intend  to tackle the numerous challenges confronting Nigeria, politicians have resorted to   mudslinging, ethnicity, sectionalism and outright hate campaign against opponents. The political gladiators are so naïve, selfish, desperate  and out of touch with the true aspirations of majority of Nigerians.

Hunger, poverty, disease, deprivation, hopelessness, do not recognise religion, tribe, north, south, east and west. The Nigerian voter is  more interested in how politicians intend to tackle the challenges of insecurity, corruption, poverty, the economy, unemployment, food security, collapsed public infrastructure, housing deficit among others. So far, neither the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nor the All Progressive Congress (APC)- the two major political parties have presented to the Nigerian electorate a concrete plan on how to tackle these problems. President Jonathan who is seeking re-election has not being convincing as how he intends to tackle these issues either,  if given a second term. The smaller political parties have simply been swallowed by the sound and fury of the two giants.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party claims to have done extremely well and as such deserves a second term to complete its transformation agenda. However, it is worth pointing out  that even within the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, urban slumps have sprung up, refuse collection,  solid waste management, inadequate housing  have remained  a huge  challenge. Primary and Secondary schools within the F.C.T are over crowded and lack basic facilities. The satellite towns despite proximity to the seat of power  lack basic amenities such as water, electricity, roads and housing. Indeed, women and children spend hours scooping water from virtually dried up streams in competition with animals. The situation in most Nigerian cities and rural areas is not different.

Against this background therefore, it is in the best interest of politicians to come up with concrete plans on how they intend to tackle the numerous problems confronting Nigeria. The Nigerian voters  of  the February, 2015  general elections are politically enlightened. They are united by frustrations of failed dreams and aspirations. Therefore, attempts by desperate politicians to divide and rule them along religious, tribal and sectional divide will fail woefully.

The Death Trap Called Rice Distribution

Nigeria is beautiful country blessed with abundant human and natural resources. At Independence, the country was known for its agricultural products such as cocoa, palm kernels, rubber, groundnuts etc. However, with the discovery of oil, agriculture became relegated to the background in preference to the black gold. Successive governments initiated programmes such as Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution, with a view to increasing food production to feed its fast growing population. The various River Basin Development Authority established for the purpose of enhancing food production have not perform as envisaged.

Regrettably, most Nigerian farmers are still using Stone Age agricultural implements in the 21st Century. Government rhetoric on diversification of the Nigerian economy through mechanisation of the agricultural sector has not led to increased food production. Neither has government at all levels been able to create jobs for the large number of unemployed youths through agriculture.

As a result, Nigerians have become beggars looking for what to feed on. With the general elections just around the corner the “chubby cheeks” politicians have capitalised on the high level of poverty and hunger to distribute rice to Nigerians. This has often resulted to stampede and loss of lives. Indeed, Nigeria has witnessed the ugly trend severally. For example, during the 50th Independence anniversary celebration, the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan on 30th September 2010, at Abuja International Conference Centre distributed rice to the Nigerian poor. In the course of the exercise, there was a stampede leading to loss of lives. The police threw tear gas on the surging crowd to no avail until the gates to the Centre were locked. A similar incident took place at Samson Siasia Stadium on 14th November 2014. The rice distributed by the First Lady was said to have even expired. In another incident, eleven people reportedly lost their lives in a scramble for free rice in Ilorin, Kwara State during Eid el- Kabir celebration. Also, Unemployed youths of the University of Uyo, Uyo City Polytechnic and Akwa Ibom State College of Education lost their lives while struggling for a share of N15 million promised by the State Governor Godswill Akpabio. It is most unfortunate that desperate political “Do Gooders” who have mismanaged public funds resort to these false acts of charity without regard to the safety of lives.

With the 2015 elections around the corner, politicians have tried to outwit one another in the so-called acts of charity as witnessed recently during the 2014 Christmas festivities. Politicians have deliberately through their inaction improvised the people so as to exert control over them. The high level of poverty and hopelessness makes it easy for politicians to manipulate and control the people for selfish reasons. This state of affairs is a threat to national security, free and fair elections. The question is for how long will the poor continue to lose their lives in attempt to receive handouts from politicians. The solution lies in good governance. It is only through good governance that critical issues of extreme poverty, hunger, corruption, unemployment, and insecurity among others; would be tackled.

dame-jonathans-visit-kid-feared-dead-another-injured-stampede

http://elendureports.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1361&Itemid=51

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http://allafrica.com/stories/201011180265.html

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http://www.punchng.com/metro-plus/thousands-scramble-for-tinubus-xmas-gifts/