The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, has enjoined newly-elected federal lawmakers in Nigeria to ensure that their budgeted Constituency Projects are always executed to full completion.
Professor Owasanoye gave this advice during his lecture for the second batch of participants at the closing ceremony of the 9th National Assembly Induction Programme for new legislators, held in Abuja recently.
He pointed out that the idea of a constituency project was not a bad one, but that it was disheartening to find that a lawmaker who had ensured that a project was captured in the appropriation law would then turn out to say he was unaware of its execution.
The Chairman, in the lecture titled, “The Legislature and Fight against Graft and Corruption” further spoke on the perceived huge budgets for the NASS, saying that the only solution to removing such suspicion was for the legislative arm to always break down its annual budget and throw it open to public scrutiny.
He noted that Nigeria has the highest paid legislators representing the poorest people in the world, and that since 1999 the NASS budget has increased from N6.9 billion to about N139 billion in 2018 without any concomitant increase in its membership.
The ICPC boss who described corruption as the enemy of development and good governance and the biggest challenge to Nigeria’s quest for development, harped on the “need to do away with the commercialization of the power of oversight.” He pointed out that asking government departments and agencies to fund oversight activities was inappropriate.
Professor Owasanoye also explained that where corruption is systemic, prosecution alone can hardly succeed in eradicating it; rather, a holistic approach of prevention and enforcement would be the best way to go.
He noted that the ICPC law is quite robust in the fight against corruption because of its three-pronged mandate of enforcement, prevention and public education.
At the end of the lecture, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, expressed his appreciation to the ICPC Chairman for being part of the event, stating that they were looking forward to a more mutually beneficial relationship with the Commission.