‘NASS Must Be Held Responsible For Nigeria’s Failing Economy, Rising Debt, Naira Devaluation’ — Ita Enang

Former Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang on Thursday said the National Assembly must be held responsible for the failure of the Nigerian economy, the rising debt profile of the country and the evaluation of the naira.

Senator Enang who spoke at the public presentation of Oversight Magazine dedicated to reporting events in the parliament said, the failure of the National Assembly to ask relevant question makes them responsible for the collapse of the economy.

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Enag who served as Chairman of both the House and Senate Committee on Rules and Business said both chambers of the National Assembly have never published any report of their oversight function as required of them or asked critical questions about the nation’s debt.

He said even though the lawmakers have often embarked on oversight to see what the Ministries, Department and Agencies are doing, they have never brought their report to the floor of the parliament for deliberation as required of them.

He said the failure of the Executive arm of government both at the state and national level to perform optimally is as a result of the failure of the oversight function of the National Assembly as well as state Houses of Assembly across the country.

He said “It is the fault of the National Assembly failing to do their oversight function. If the National Assembly were able, they will ask questions. When you pass a budget, you embark on oversight to see how much of that budget has been released and to what extent has the projects in that budget been executed.

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“After that, you bring a report to the floor stating how much has been released and to what extent that project has been executed. You will then know how much is needed to complete that projects that will be included in next year’s budget and what to project in the MTEF in the next three years to exit that project.

“So, the failure of the Nigerian economy, the collapse of the naira and the unimaginable debt of Nigeria is the failure of the National Assembly.

Again, the National Assembly never asked, where is the account of the last budget because under the law, you are expected to recieve that report, see the extent of compliance before you agree for the President to come and present the next budget.

“The debt we are said to owe is the failure of the National Assembly because they have never asked questions. When you seek to speak on the floor on such matters, they say you are blowing Grammer abs before you know it, the gavel has gone.

“Has the National Assembly ever asked; the loan you said we took; is it the application of the funds in that loan that will generate the money we will use to pay for that loan and the accrued interest? They have never asked and we use oil money to pay loan which we took.

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“Unfortunately, most of these loans never arrive Nigeria. Some are in SUVs, some are kept somewhere.

“How will the legislature ever go on oversight when they will not publish the report of the oversight. They won’t even bring the report to the floor”.

Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Oluwole Oke said the Nigerian parliament has not been able to carry out effective oversight which is part of their function because they lack the capacity and funds to do so.

Oke said while attempt has been made by previous government towards ensuring accountability, there has been no serious efforts from the parliament to ensure that.

He said the body saddled with the responsibility of checking corruption is the parliament through oversight, but asked “as a parliament, are we really oversighting? I have been in the parliament since 2003 and I can tell you that we don’t have what it take to carry out effective oversight.

“When you take on a responsible Accounting Officer who know what he or she is doing, all he needs to do is to put the blame at your door steps because you passed the appropriation and after all, it is your job.

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“When we begin to look at the impediments, the question then is, why can’t we oversight? Do we have the funds, do we have the capacity? What type of budget are we operating in Nigeria?

“You want to oversight NDDC and they will be the one to buy your ticket and accomodate you. After that, you will come and be asking them questons about infractions when you have lost the control?

Oke said further that there has been no special media saddled with the responsibility of oversight, saying “in Nigeria, there are three arms of government- Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature.

“The Legislature is saddled with the responsibility to oversight the Executive and the Judiciary. But who has the responsibility of oversighting the Legislature?

“The media has the responsibility to oversight the three arms of government and there are examples in the developed world.

“The government uses the media to communicate with the people, while the people also expressed their opinion over government actions and inaction towards their needs through the media.”

“As a public watch dog, the media has a major role of oversight and to play this role, the media must not only have a deep understanding of legislative affairs, but must also be criticalcritical about the way the legislature function.

“The must have sources among the legislators, and staff to understand the decisions that committees and legislators make in the House.

“The oversight function of the media over democratic institutions cannot be over emphasised because it serves as backbone of accountability and oversight of democracy”.

The Senator Representing Abia Central, Senator Austin Akobundu said the even server asreminded of the role of oversight in the development of any nation.

He said “I know the role of oversight and it’s importance in the public space. Oversight is about transparency and accountability. It involved monitoring, evaluation and upholding ethical standards.

“It invokes fostering the culture of improvement, the aspect or probity and elimination of impunity. Therefore, the impact of effective oversight in ensuring accountability cannot be over emphasised.”

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