OPINION: Legislative Oversight and the Budget – by Eze Onyekpere

Published:26 Nov, 2012

OPINION: Legislative Oversight and the Budget – by Eze Onyekpere

The presidential system of government which we practice in Nigeria makes provision for separation of powers, apportioning disparate powers and duties to the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. Essentially, the legislature makes laws which the executive is under obligation to implement. The judiciary is called upon in the determination of civil rights and obligations to interpret the laws. The presidential system of government understands that powers may be abused and therefore introduced a system of checks and balances among the three arms of government. Through the power of interpretation, the courts can declare laws made by the legislature unconstitutional and therefore null and void and of no effect whatsoever. The legislature on the other hand has the power of oversight over the execution and administration of laws by the executive. The executive holds the powers of investigation, coercion and implementation of laws and can as well use these powers to call the legislature and judiciary to account.  Thus, it is a system created tor the overall benefit of the citizens.

Since the return to civil rule in 1999 in Nigeria, the federal capital budgets have been very poorly implemented by the executive. Hardly has capital budget implementation risen above 50 per cent by the end of the fiscal year in December. When this fact is juxtaposed against the background that the recurrent part of the budget has been consuming about 70 per cent of the budget, then the implication is the fact that we have been dedicating about 15 per cent of the overall annual budget to capital expenditure. This has led to our poor social indicators, infrastructure deficit and massive unemployment and underdevelopment. What is the role of the legislature in all this? This is where the power of oversight invested in the National Assembly by Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution as amended should be utilised.

By Section 88 of the Constitution, the National Assembly is empowered to conduct investigations into any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws. It also has power to conduct investigations into the conduct or affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged with the duty or responsibility of executing or administering laws enacted by it and the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated or to be appropriated by the lawmakers. These powers are meant inter alia to correct defects in existing laws and for the enactment of new laws, expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the system and waste in the administration or disbursement of moneys appropriated by the legislature. By Section 89, the National Assembly has powers to procure evidence needed for the investigation, require evidence to be given on oath, compel the attendance of witnesses on the pain of punishment if they fail to attend, etc.

The constitution did not grant these enormous powers to the parliament for the fun of it. These powers were granted in the public interest. Shortly before the lawmakers went on their 2012 recess, it became clear that the executive was playing games with the implementation of the capital budget. There were all kinds of spins about the capital budget implementation which had no correspondence with reality leading to threats of possible impeachment of the President. The National Assembly since then had indicated that its committees would embark upon, and have indeed embarked on, oversight visits to the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to determine their level of implementation of the capital budget. However, Nigerians have yet to be formally and fully briefed on what the legislators found at these visits and what the information available to them indicates. We only get snippets from the media on the state of implementation of certain MDAs. This is not good enough.

Oversight visits and investigations are not ends in themselves. They will be unproductive and wasteful of public resources if no follow-up remedial action is founded on them. Apparently, capital budget implementation has remained the way it has been since the visits. Not much has changed and it is still business as usual. At least, Nigerians who use the roads know that virtually all the major roads in the 2012 budget have not witnessed a face-lift. On this score, it is imperative that the National Assembly, in a comprehensive report, briefs Nigerians, the ultimate sovereigns, on their findings. The resources used for this oversight exercise belong to the public resources. Such a report is also expected to contain the way forward in terms of actions that are needed to get guarantees of non repetition; those that should face prosecution and or be relieved of their duty posts. We also expect public apologies from some of those guilty. It should answer the questions: Did the Ministry of Finance release funds as and when due? Did any MDA sit on released money for no obvious reason? Did contractors abandon their jobs after collecting public funds? Indeed, we need answers to the posers; who is responsible and who should bear the pain of scuttling the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Nigerians?

Nigerians do not want the National Assembly to throw its hand up in the air while stating that its resolutions and recommendations to the executive do not have the force of law and that they can be ignored. Yes, some members of the executive may seek to hide under this subterfuge to ensure that the National Assembly backs off exposing their misdeeds. But Nigerians are now wiser. When the members of the House of Representatives sat on a Sunday at the height of the fuel subsidy crisis in January and made far-reaching resolutions, they had the support of all right-thinking Nigerians and this support for the resolutions continued until the Otedola-Farouk bribery scandal which eventually divided and diminished that support. This is a challenge to the National Assebly: Put your budget monitoring reports with well-researched recommendations in the public domain. Give the executive a timeline to make amends and draw a line in the sand if they fail to do so. The National Assembly can be assured of the support of Nigerians if their findings and recommendations accord with the wishes and aspirations of the majority of Nigerians. The rallies, mass action, street protests and media pressure will be too much for the executive to bear and it will be left with no option but to implement these resolutions. But, the lawmakers must be extra careful, vigilant and be above board like Caesar’s wife because he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Traps will be set but you must not fall; you must lead by the force of your examples. Your constitutional powers will be strengthened by your moral leadership.

Finally, the lawmakers can consider a three to four year trends analysis of capital budget implementation so that the new course of action which they will chart will be well-grounded in theory and practice. History will be kind to them if they should hearken to the voice of the people and lighten the yoke of the masses through their contribution to the design of a new approach to capital budget implementation and oversight.

 

by Eze Onyekpere (censoj@gmail.com)

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Buhari calls for review of Nigeria’s Joint Development Authority with Sao Tome and Principe

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria must sit down soon with Sao Tome & Principe to review the activities of their Joint Development Authority so as to make it more efficient and productive.   A statement by the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari made the call at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Sao Tome & Principe, Patrice Emery Trovoada, in Abuja, on Wednesday.   Buhari said the two countries also needed to intensify their...

PDP members kick against N1000 e-registration levy

Efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to mop up its aggrieved and disgruntled members across the country through the newly introduced electronic registration of members with a view to repositioning the party, suffered a great set back on Wednesday, following the outright rejection of the N1000 registration levy imposed on each member.   The pilot phase of the e-registration exercise scheduled to commence in Edo State on Wednesday, failed to take off, as some of the party members protested the...

Kogi 2015: Wada- A Needless Sentiment! By Petra Akinti Onyegbule

In less than three months from now, voters from the three senatorial districts of Kogi State will be at the polls to decide their next governor. Already, various political parties are busy with the electoral process of selecting their respective candidates for the gubernatorial contest and pollsters are at work on varied analysis regarding the chances of the contending parties.  Presently, the political battle seems to have been narrowed down to two major parties in the State, the APC...

Musings on Kogi State By Joshua Ocheja

Kogi is indeed a dynamic state. It’s a state where unbelievable tales are never in short supply in politics, culture, ethnicity, religion and governance. It’s never a dull moment in Kogi state. We ‘belong to everybody and we belong to nobody’. The state was created on 27 August 1991 from parts of Kwara State and Benue State with three senatorial districts to represent the three ethnic tribes in the state. The Igalas to the East, the Okuns to the...

Fake Policeman Arrested In Ibadan, Charged To Court

A 29-year-old suspect, Emmanuel Anebeh, was on Wednesday docked at an Iyaganku Chief Magistrate's’ Court in Ibadan over alleged impersonation. The Prosecutor, Cpl. Philip Amusan, told the court that the accused, of no fixed address, faced a two-count charge of impersonation and unlawful possession of a Police Warrant Card. He said the accused committed the alleged offences on Aug. 14, at about 1:00 a.m. at the Ibadan/Ife Expressway at Egbeda, Ibadan. Amusan alleged that...

Ekiti Workers Resume Early To Avoid Sanction

Civil servants in Ekiti State yesterday rushed to offices to avoid being sanctioned for lateness. Their action followed an unscheduled visit by Governor Ayo Fayose to the secretariat on Monday during which he apprehended over 30 workers for lateness. The civil servants prostrated, knelt down, cried and begged the governor to be merciful, but he directed the Head of Service, Gbenga Faseluka, to begin disciplinary action against them. Reporters monitored the resumption of workers at...

Corpse Caught Having Sex With Another In Morgue (MUST READ)

This story is factual and can be verified. Reports emanating from Aba had it that a man who died in Aba, last Tuesday, atop a prostitute in a brothel, was later deposited in a mortuary in Aba awaiting investigation and collection for burial probably by his relations. However, on Thursday, when another corpse arrived, the mortuary attendants were shocked to find the corpse of the dead man on top of another female corps. Initially, the...

Protesters Storm APC Secretariat Over Audu’s Emergence In Kogi

Dozens of placard-carrying protesters on Wednesday besieged the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress to protest against the emergence ?of Abubakar Audu as the party’s governorship candidate. Audu defeated 27 other contestants to emerge as the party’s flag bearer in the forthcoming Kogi State governorship election. While the candidate was waiting to collect his certificate of return, scores of protesters, carrying placards, stormed the gate of...

ICPC Probes Amaechi, Kwankwaso, Chime, Shema

The independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC) has commenced investigations of four former governors following petition against them. The four governors are former governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. Already four teams have been raised to visit the states to check the books of the states to establish the allegations against the governors. Read More: vanguardngr

Nigerian Air Force Redeploys Senior Officers

The Nigerian Air Force has released the redeployment and appointments of some senior officers, a statement by air force spokesperson, Dele Alonge, said. Mr. Alonge said the officers deployed to new duty posts are four branch chiefs, three air officers commanding and two commandants. According to him, the four branch chiefs at the air force headquarters are Air Vice Marshal A.A. Iya, formally the Chairman Air Exposition and International Liaison Secretariat, now appointed Chief of...

Mayor Wanted For Running Her Town Via WhatsApp

BBC reports 25-year-old Lidiane Leite, mayor of Brazilian town Bom Jardim, is on the run from law enforcement after it was discovered that she didn't actually live in Bom Jardim and was running the town via WhatsApp. Leite ran for office in 2012 in the small town after her then-boyfriend Beto Rocha was banned from running due to corruption charges against him. She stepped in to run for mayor in his place, and when she...

VIDEO: 50Cent Son’s Lego Birthday Party Like A National Holiday?

American rapper, 50Cent, flaunts his son's 3rd birthday on instagram. He believes Sire's party was dope enough to be confused for a national holiday party. Watch clips below and tell us if the party deserves to be compared to a national holiday party. https://instagram.com/p/7IC5OJsL9n/?taken-by=50cent https://instagram.com/p/7IEgHSsL_p/?taken-by=50cent

@Lanre_Olagunju: A Tweet Might Just Save a Newborn’s Life

From all indications the Social Media has definitely come to stay. New media as it is fondly called is not just changing the way we live daily, many of its advantages and success stories live with us today. Social Media is not just changing how we buy and sell, it is redefining the concept of market. Social Media is gradually influencing election processes, and more importantly how elections will be conducted in few years’ time. In...

LOL! Don Jazzy Summons Mammy Water In Search Of Dear Future Wife

Ace producer and Mavin Boss, Don Jazzy, has taken his search for his dear future wife to the Lagoon and it is hilarious. He shared this comedy skit on instagram: https://instagram.com/p/7H3kzptRze/

APC guber aspirant in Bayelsa, Sam Inokoba dies at 68

Former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Col. Sam Inokoba (rtd), is dead.   The 68-year-old ex-PDP chairman who defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, along with other political heavyweights in the state some two weeks ago, was recently reported to have slumped at a political function in the state.   Until his death, the retired Colonel was an APC governorship aspirant in Bayelsa and had procured his nomination form to contest the governorship primaries of the party.   Reports have...

Protesters Interrupt Rihanna’s Perfume Launch

Rihanna had a violent run-in with an old foe -- angry protesters interrupted the singer's perfume launch. Rihanna was at a Macy's in Brooklyn on Monday for the release of her new perfume line "RiRi" when the fur-huggers lashed out. You can see from the video -- security quickly steps in to remove the protesters but not before Rihanna took notice. This isn't the first...

Auto crash: Akpabio flown abroad for treatment

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was on Tuesday afternoon flown out of Nigeria to receive medical treatment abroad in company of about five of his aides. Akpabio arrived at the local wing of the General Aviation Terminal, of the airport with his team around 12.40pm. He thereafter left the...

6 Early Signs Of An Abusive Relationship

1. Moving Very Fast The most difficult warning sign to accept is how fast things progress. She wants to see him every night. He wants to move in after a month. The abusive partner may claim you're perfect for each other, that it was love at first sight, that you're soul mates, and other romantic-sounding things. Unfortunately, the desirability of this behavior gives controlling partners the best opportunity to gain total control over the other partner's...

FRSC Investigates Akpabio’s Car Crash

The Federal Road Safety Corps on Wednesday said it was investigating the circumstances that led to an accident involving former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Goodswill Akpabio. The head, media relations and strategy, FRSC, Bisi Kazeem said that investigations into the crash was already ongoing. Mr Kazeem said, “The accident and investigation team of the FRSC, was immediately deployed to the scene of the crash for investigation.” Mr. Kazeem said the outcome of the...

Legislative Aides Protest N7 bn Unpaid Allowances

Legislative aides of Senators and members of the House of Representatives, who served in the 7th Assembly, yesterday protested the non-payment of their severance gratuities and Duty Tour Allowances, DTA, totaling N7billion at the central lobby of the National Assembly, NASS. The aides, numbering over 2,500, had after about two hours meeting at the Hearing Room 1 of the House of Representatives, stormed the central lobby of the complex to express their annoyance over the refusal...

Police Arrest Baby Traffickers, Criminals Involved In Arms Dealing

The police have arrested some baby traffickers and criminals involved in arms dealing in Abia State, in south-east Nigeria. Some women and teenage girls in the age bracket of 16 and 18 years were nabbed by the police for their involvement in stealing, buying and selling of babies under the age of one year. According to security agencies, a baby was stolen from the mother by one “Ekwutosi”, who used one of the teenage girl,...