By Alice Ekpang, Abuja
Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Thursday, identified corruption as the most potent factor responsible for national security challenges in the country today.
Owasanoye stated this while delivering a goodwill message at the opening ceremony of a capacity building workshop for the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption, which has as its theme, “The role of the legislature in the fight against corruption,” organized by a German foundation, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in partnership with the House Committee on Anti-Corruption.
He noted that proper legislature, appropriation, oversight, and scrutiny of public accounts would have prevented the drift into the kind of insecurity that presently engulfs the nation.
He said: “Through legislation, appropriation, investigation, oversight, and the scrutiny of public accounts, the legislature implements a very crucial fundamental objective in fighting corruption of power and also by doing so, it prevents the drift into the kind of insecurity that we have found ourselves in.
“Corruption is Nigeria’s greatest challenge and a singular push factor of national security challenges, the expansion of poverty, the reduction of life expectancy, the high mortality rate we suffer, and the deteriorated livelihood experienced by our citizens.
He added that graft has also diminished the promotion and standing of democratic institutions and national accountability which has promoted the creation of unnecessary projects, and the funding of such, thus diminishing the funding of the necessary projects and to see them to completion.
Owasanoye emphasized that the role of the legislature ultimately is to ensure that “we do not go in that direction but to keep us on the path of restitution by promotion of good governance through their legislative process.
“Now the big question and the elephant in the room is how well has the legislature played this role over the years? There is a perception out there that the legislature is rather reactive, trying to put out fires rather than preventing the fires from going out and sometimes dramatic in its approach to oversight functions.”
According to him, “the legislature is increasingly stepping up approach in recent times. This a good thing even though some people say it is disruptive of work and uncomfortable but it is important to the value of the money that has been appropriated by the national assembly.
“The legislation has the power to investigate, expose and prevent corruption at all levels of government. The authority to determine the spending of public funds is the most fundamental power of the legislature. However, this power does not extend to fixing their salaries and allowances.”
Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila represented by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris said the legislature does not make oversight activities dramatic.
“It is not the legislature that makes oversight activities look dramatic, but the persistence of agencies who actually have so much to add and that is what is responsible for dumping of documents, both relevant and irrelevant documents.
“The power of appropriation of the panel is not limited to endorsing whatever is represented by the agencies of government. It includes reviews, and reviews could be upward or downward based on the act and amenities on the ground. But that power is to be exercised in the interest and generality of the people.”
He added that debates and hearings in the House are recorded and are available for public consumption.