The chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) Professor Bolaji Owasanoye has urged the National Assembly to remove the secrecy surrounding its budget for the sake of transparency.
According to ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, Professor Owasanoye spoke during a lecture at the 9th National Assembly induction programme for new legislators, held in Abuja.
In the lecture titled ‘The Legislature and Fight against Graft and Corruption’ ICPC boss who spoke on the alleged outlandish allowances of members of National assembly and the controversial issue of constituency projects said 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, NASS 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.”
Professor 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.
The ICPC boss also said that corruption thrives more in the executive than the Legislature and the Judiciary.
The ICPC boss based his assertion on the fact that the aggregate budgetary allocations to MDAs year by year was more than that of the other two arms combined, 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.”
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