The National Assembly has been urged to pay more attention to its oversight responsibilities and effectively monitor audit reports on appropriations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Mr Dayo Olaide, the Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation, Nigeria gave the advice at a one-day seminar to mark the House of Representatives Press Corps Day on Wednesday on Abuja.
The event organised in collaboration with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC, had as its theme: “Fight Against Corruption: Setting Agenda for the 9th House’’.
Olaide said the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended allowed the National Assembly to have oversight functions over institutions of government.
The deputy director added that if the assembly carried out its functions effectively, it would contribute to the ongoing fight against corruption in the country.
“The National Assembly is in a position to actually drive the anti-corruption agencies out of business if it would do its oversight work effectively.
“Because it is not by mistake that the framers of our constitution gave the oversight responsibility and powers to the National Assembly over others.
“It is in recognition of the fact that if you give out and do not pay attention to how appropriations are beings, then it becomes difficult to hold anyone to account.
“Our plea together with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre is to urge the National Assembly to pay more attention to its oversight responsibilities and to respond to reports that are coming from the field,’’ he said.
Olaide recalled that the audit report of 2016 revealed that some MDAs did not submit their reports, but continued to receive their appropriations.
“In 2016, the audit report said more than 323 MDAs did not submit their audited reports but they still got appropriations.
“About 67 MDAs or agencies were reported not to have submitted their audited reports for more than 10 years and they continued to receive appropriations.
“About another 79 was reported not to have submitted audited reports since their establishment and they have been getting appropriations.
“The fight against corruption requires a strong, measurable commitment and the deliberate attention of the National Assembly.’’
Also speaking, Mr Auwal Musa, the Executive Director, CISLAC urged the 9th Assembly to ensure that it owns the fight against corruption and lead by example by having the “utmost ethics in its conduct’’.
“Currently, Nigerians believe it is only the Executive arm of government that is fighting corruption. It is important that the National Assembly work toward changing the negative perception of the public.
“Our advocacy to you is to mainstream anti-corruption in whatever work you are doing by ensuring that you also lead by example through having utmost ethics in your conduct.
“Because when you lead by example, the Executive, Judiciary and the Nigerian people will follow suit.
“Also, you will gain the confidence of the people and dissolve the negative perception of the National Assembly.’’
He urged the House of Representatives to ensure that it includes an anti-corruption agenda in its reforms for the 9th Assembly.
Earlier in her address, Ms. Grace Ike, Chairman of the House of Representatives Press Corps expressed readiness of the corps to promote the activities of the House and dispel the negative perception of the public against the House.
“The House must involve the media in all its activities to douse the negative public perception,” she said.