Members of the legislative arm of government have been alleged to have commercialised their oversight functions to the detriment of the system they are meant to protect.
Delivering a paper titled; ‘Dwindling Economic Fortunes: Strategy For Sustainable, Efficient and Virile Legislative Assembly,’ during the quarterly capacity building lecture for staffers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Maruf Tijani added that a virile legislature will exercise its functions as stipulated by the Nigerian constitution.
Tijani, who is a staff of the Assembly and a chartered accountant, said that having a virile legislature will enable them to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of law within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.
“This is the time the House should expedite action on the ‘Sun Set Bill’ which aims at examining MDAs that have outlived their usefulness or not in line with the mandate of the present administration.
“The constitutional and important role given to the Public Accounts Committee cannot be left out in the control of public expenditure. The PAC must be alive to its responsibility if we are to survive the lean time. Erring MDAs and officials must be sanctioned appropriately to serve as deterrent to others. There should not be no any sacred cow in the course of execution of sanction for erring and corrupt government officials even, where members are affected,” he said.
He advised that the legislature must see the need for executive-legislative rapport and optimize the gain of such parley without necessarily compromising its independence.
While making reference to the 50% pay cut by the President and the Vice President of the country, he advised that no sacrifice should be too much for legislators to make as representatives of the people.
He stated that, where members find it difficult to also propose to accept salary/imprest pay cut, then members may sacrifice the luxury of travelling on business class for economy on official journey if the journey is unavoidable.
“The legislature should therefore be at the forefront for the campaign for scaling down of overhead cost across board. Sacrifice for political office holders will help free up resources that could be channelled to infrastructural development to promote economic growth and development,” he stated.
He traced the history of the economic development of the country, saying that the fall in the price of crude oil, a major source of revenue for the country, has serious implication for the country’s economy.
“At the moment, the economic situation is biting so hard in some states in the federation that monthly receipt from the federation allocation has sharply declined. Thus a few states governments are able to pay their workers as and, when due, while many others are unable to meet their obligations to their workers,” he said.
In his response to the lecture, the clerk of the Assembly, Mr. Segun Abiru said that the lecture is the 4th in the series and that everybody knows what is going on around the world and not just in Nigeria.
He said that there is no way the legislature can be isolated in a dwindling economy with a view to determining the role of the legislature in revamping the economy.
“When you look at the functions of the legislature, they are so enormous and if those functions are discharged efficiently and effectively, we will have a better country. When we are talking about dwindling economy, I felt that let us look at it and see what we can do about it so that we could improve on it,” he added.
He stated further that civil servants must know much about issues, which was why the lecture is being organised regularly.
The clerk however, said that the Lagos State House of Assembly is not part of the assemblies that have commercialised their oversight functions, adding that corruption should be eliminated from the system.
He said that if legislators perform their oversight functions effectively, leakages in the system would be blocked.
According to him, a law is being made to have a budget office in the assembly so that anytime budget would be made, the assembly would generate figures for the executive.
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