Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) has urged the National Assembly to remove the secrecy surrounding its budget for the sake of transparency.

NASS

Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a statement on Monday, said Owasanoye made the call during the National Assembly Induction Programme for new legislators in Abuja.

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The ICPC Chairman spoke on the topic; “The Legislature and Fight against Graft and Corruption”.

He said that the public perception of legislators as being corrupt would not go away until the National Assembly threw open its yearly budget to the public.

He stressed that the execution of the National Assembly budget which had grown exponentially from N6.9 billion in 1999 to about N139 billion in 2018, for the same number of legislators had remained shrouded in secrecy.

“This gives room for allegations of abuse and misappropriation of the funds.

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“It is believed that we have the highest paid legislators representing the poorest people in the world.

“Since 1999, National Assembly Budget has increased without defensible legal or moral justification.

“Without increase in membership and addition of only one or two agencies, NASS budget grew from N6.9 billion in 1999 to N139 billion in 2018.

“The problem is that it is just a single line item; the public is hardly told the breakdown and how it is used. The criticisms will disappear if we are told how it is spent,” he said.

Owasanoye described corruption as the enemy of development and good governance and the biggest challenge to Nigeria’s development.

“The Legislature must wake up to its role of oversight over Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to curb the menace,’’ he was quoted as saying in the statement.

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