BY BEN AGANDE
ABUJA—Members of the House of Representatives committee on Special duties yesterday visited the Presidential Villa to carry out oversight function on the performance of the 2013 budget.
The 20- member committee met with President Goodluck Jonathan before inspecting some on-going projects in the Villa after which they expressed satisfaction with the pace of work that are ongoing.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati who spoke with newsmen after the inspection said the visit will help bridge communication gap between the legislature and the executive arm of government.
Chairman of the committee, Nadu Karibo said the committee was impressed with the extent of work on-going at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, “what really impressed me was the extension work going on at the State House Medical Centre and I was surprised. My initial impression was that State House Medical Centre was only for the President and the State House Staff but I observed that those who are not even State House staff have access to medical facilities there; it is really impressive.
“We also observed that a new site is being developed, probably to cater for the upsurge in the people going there for treatment. I was really impressed with the fact that outsiders have access to the facilities there.
“We are very happy that the President will open his doors and allow members to come freely and do oversight, I think this is unprecedented, it is not a usual everyday thing. So I am really impressed that the President opened his doors to let us look at what we wanted to see,” he said.
He said the impression that the House of Representatives was always at loggerheads with the executive was not entirely correct because what the legislature tries to do is ensure that laws are implemented as passed.
“The problem with Nigerians is that they believe if you don’t quarrel with the executive, you are not doing your work well and any little disagreement, any little misunderstanding between both arms which is very usual in politics is often overblown. It is not out of place for the a House of Representatives to ask questions when necessary, otherwise the relationship between the executive and the legislature is very cordial.”
Asked whether the Budgetary allocation to the State House was enough considering what the committee saw concerning on going projects, the committee chairman said when the 2014 budget is brought before the House, “we will look at it again and if there is any need to increase it, we will persuade the House to increase it, if there is any need to reduce it, the House of Representatives will reduce it” he said.
Speaking on the visit, Dr Abati said “this is perhaps the very first time this kind of visit will happen and it is something to be encouraged.
If a section of the legislature is responsible for oversight even for the State House, it is very good that they will come and see what is going on there. Even the executive arm of government places a lot of emphasis on oversight and checks and balances on monitoring and evaluation” he said.
The presidential Spokesman quoted the president as saying that “both the executive and the legislature are travelling to the same destinations and that destination is to serve the people.
“It’s a question of commitment to delivering service and this shows very clearly that both the legislature and executive are working together. It was a very good, amiable meeting and interaction” he said.