Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, ICPC, has alleged that members of the National Assembly usually compromise their major constitutional functions of oversight and investigations on government agencies and their officials.
This, according to the chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the lawmakers lack the will to carry out their constitutional roles as expected through commercialisation of their activities.
Owasanoye spoke in Abuja while delivering a paper titled ‘The Role of the Legislature in the War Against Corruption and Graft’ on the last day of the induction course for the second batch of elected members of the coming 9th Assembly.
He said: “We should avoid a situation where because people are being investigated, they come to say they want to change the laws to forestall that. I want to urge the lawmakers not to support that.
“Oversight function has been commercialised, which is why the mechanism hasn’t been effective. Legislature is accused of passing the costs to MDAs and of accepting other forms of gratification, eg foreign trips, phoney seminars, etc to look the other way.
“The Legislature has powers of investigation: this was very well utilised in the past. But many other times, the power is commercialised. You find out that the investigators become compromised in the process. There’s lacuna on what the legislature should do with the findings”.
The ICPC chairman also challenged the lawmakers to make the details of their budget public.
“Since 1999, the Nigerian Legislature has never shown any seriousness in scrutinising the reports of the auditor general. NASS Budget rose from N6.9bn in 1999 to N139bn in 2018.
“There’s no country in the world where the legislature budget is up to one percent. But the question is there’s no breakdown for the amount. It is opaque and disproportionate. If you make the details, it may even lead to the need for more funds. Why would the legislature demand the details of agencies’ budgets without making its own open?, he stressed.