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!!!

 

Sights of Bad Governance in Nigeria

Goat on a Bus top, Katsina Ala Road, Nigeria.

Goat taking a ride on a bus top on Katsina Ala road

Man and Goat taking a ride in Nigeria.

Man and Goat taking a ride

A Woman fetching water from a  pond at Gadoro in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria.  Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

A Woman fetching water from a pond at Gadoro in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria. Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

Displaced persons sharing food items at a camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria.  Daily Trust 25/12/2014 Photo Credit: NAN

Displaced persons sharing food items at a camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria. Daily Trust 25/12/2014 Photo Credit: NAN

Resident at a stream in Kwaku Community in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria.  Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

Resident at a stream in Kwaku Community in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria. Daily Trust 17/12/2014 Photo Credit: Abubakar Sadiq Isah

Mode of Transportation in Nigeria

Transporting a Satellite Dish 

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

http://saharareporters.com/2014/11/14/how-patience-jonathan-hoodwinked-bayelsa-women-expired-rice

http://newafricanpress.com/2010/10/01/president%E2%80%99s-wife-rice-angry-youths-mob-fct-minister-demand-their-own-bags-of-rice/

http://nigerianstalk.org/2011/03/16/rice-epidemic/

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

http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/146753-several-die-stampede-kwara-pdp-members-scramble-sarakis-sallah-gifts.html

http://nigerianstalk.org/2011/03/16/rice-epidemic/

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