National Assembly and the Fight Against Corruption

By Saka Olawale

Corruption is the bane of Nigeria’s socio-economic development. This situation has become so rampant that it has threatened the existence of Nigeria as a political entity. It is therefore imperative that all Nigerians should engage in the anti-corruption fight.

Corruption is a world-wide phenomenon, and there is hardly any society without one form of corrupt practice or the other. However, in Nigeria, corruption is a big cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society. It is a monster that all and sundry blame for the economic development of the nation. It is perhaps the only reason why nothing seems to be working.

For Nigeria to have a working democracy and to win the war against corruption, it involves the efforts of each and everyone of us as citizens. The previous administration under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan was marred with incessant levels of corruption, which have turned down the socio-economic development of our dear country. Corruption has affected nearly every sphere of our human endeavours, and no profession or sector has been spared.

President Muhammed Buhari’s most important selling point at the last general election was his stance against corruption. Nigerians voted massively for the All Progressive Congress (APC), to enable Buhari to curb the menace that has been drawing our dear nation backward. In this regard, all hands must be on deck to ensure that Buhari wins the war against corruption. Nigerian citizens, the legislature and the judiciary must be supportive to end this menace.

Since the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the National Assembly has demonstrated its commitment towards President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade. Saraki made a pledge to Nigerians that the legislature will not cover up any form of corrupt practices. Additionally, he promised increased oversight functions to unravel corrupt practices at all levels of government.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in August 2015, directed all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies to open and start paying all government’s revenues and incomes into a Treasury Single Account. This measure is to promote transparency and block leakages in the public sector to free up funds for infrastructural development amidst dwindling oil prices. Unfortunately, even this measure aimed at curbing corruption was mismanaged and abused. This prompted the Senate to conduct an investigation on the management of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The outcome of this investigation has saved the nation about N7billion

Over the years, Nigerians home and abroad have demanded the breakdown of the National Assembly budget. However, none of the previous leaderships of the National Assembly has been able to accede to the yearnings of the people. In furtherance of this commitment, the president of the 8th National Assembly, has worked assiduously to bring this information to Nigerians.

This past Thursday, the National Assembly released a report to the public that gave a breakdown of the federal legislative branch’s budget. With this, Nigeria is moving from having a legislature with a one line item budget, to a more elaborate itemisation.

Another aspect which Nigerians have applauded the 8th National Assembly is the detection of the inconsistencies in the 2016 budget. During the budget defence, a lot of issues based on the padding of the budget, over-bloated overheads and in some instances, cases of over-bloated personnel cost were exposed. Some of the discrepancies in the budget include huge differences in the prices quoted for the same items by different MDAs.

Also, there were also issues of arithmetical errors in which figures just did not add up. The National Assembly is working on having a proper re-evaluation of the appropriations process to pass a budget that is implementable and acceptable to Nigerians.

With all of this, the 8th Senate is working in-line with the mandate given to this government to reform Nigeria across all sectors. We can only hope, and pray that it is given an opportunity to complete its mandate.

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