……..Says NASS Will Hold Govt Officials Accountable
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday said the Senate is yet to receive any formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Lawan made the disclosure when a delegation of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption paid a courtesy visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.
Chairman of the Presidential Committee and leader of the delegation, Prof. Itse Sagay, in his address, craved the cooperation of the upper chamber in ensuring the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, as well as the consideration of several Anti-corruption Bills introduced under the Eight National Assembly.
Sagay also informed the Senate leadership present at the meeting that the Committee had severally received complaints that members of the National Assembly, particularly Chairmen of Committees, solicit monetary compensation for undertaking oversight functions.
Responding to Sagay, the Senate President said, “Going by our rules, any issue that was not concluded in the lifetime of the Eight National Assembly would have to start all over again.
“As far as we are concerned, those bills would have to come again and go through the process from the very beginning. We are prepared to begin work on them if the bills are ready.
On the confirmation of Magu, Lawan said, “there’s no request before this Ninth Senate for the confirmation of the Chairman of the EFCC.
“This is a new Senate and therefore, until there’s a request to this Senate, there’s nothing it can do.
“I want to assure you that if any of such requests come from the President, we will play our part in the confirmation and passing of legislation accordingly.
“On oversight, you mentioned that people complain that committees or members of the National Assembly demand monies from MDAs.
“As far as I know, I’m not in receipt of any complain. If any committee asks for anything from any MDA that is not appropriate, the law is there to take its full course.
“We believe that no committee or no member of the National Assembly will go out of their way to ask for anything from anybody before that committee undertakes any oversight.
“The ninth Senate has decided that we will take our oversight very seriously. We believe that it is the best thing to do after we pass the budget in good time.
“Therefore, we are going to hold those charged or entrusted with public funds for implementation and provision of infrastructure and services accountable.
“We believe that there is need to apply the resources efficiently and prudently.
“Also, the cost of governance in Nigeria is too high. Today, we have over seven hundred agencies of government. Many of them are not adding any value to governance.
“We believe that the time has come to review the functions of these agencies to determine their relevance.
“We need to look at how we are going to streamline these agencies to ensure we free our resources in order to add to our capital.
“The appropriation of seventy percent of our budget to recurrent is not desirable. We have to work with the executive arm of government to reduce it.
“Reducing them will not happen overnight because we have to get rid of many agencies first without having to throw people out into the labour market.”
Senators present during the visit are: Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Senate Minority Whip, Philip Aduda; Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u; Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Bamidele Opeyemi, and Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah.
Other senators at the meeting are: Senators Tolulope Odebiyi (APC, Ogun West); Oseni Yakubu (APC, Kogi Central); Chairman, Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Abubakar Kyari; Chairman, Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Suleiman Abdul Kwari; Chairman, Committee on Water Resources, Bello Mandiya; Vice Chairman, Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Francis Fadahunsi, and Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, Suleiman Umar.