By Tunde Opalana, Abuja
National members have been accused of lacking the will to carry out their constitutional oversight roles on the activities of the executive arm because of compromise and corruption.
Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, who made this allegation said that members of the National Assembly usually compromise their major constitutional functions of oversight and investigation.
He said as a result of the compromise\ which comes through the commercialization of their activities, the lawmakers lack the will to carry out their constitutional roles.
Prof. Owasanoye spoke while delivering a paper titled: The role of the legislature in the war against corruption and graft” on the last day of the induction course for the second batch of elected members of the coming 9th National Assembly.
“We should avoid a situation where because people are being investigated, they come to say they want to change the laws to forestall that. I want to urge the lawmakers not to support that.
“Oversight functions have been commercialized which is why the mechanism hasn’t been effective. The legislature is accused of passing the costs to MDAs and of accepting other forms of gratification, such as foreign trips and phony seminars to look the other way.
“The legislature has powers of investigation; this was very well utilized in the past. But, many other times, the power is commercialized. You find out that the investigators become compromised in the process. There’s lacuna on what the legislature should do with the findings,” he said.
The ICPC chairman also challenged the lawmakers to make the details of their budget public.
“Since 1999, the legislature has never shown any seriousness in scrutinizing the reports of the auditor general. The National Assembly budget rose from N6.9 billion in 1999 to N139 billion in 2018.
“There’s no country in the world where the legislative budget is up to one percent. But, the question is there’s no breakdown for the amount. It is opaque and disproportionate. If you make the details known, it may even lead to the need for more funds. Why would the legislature demand the details of agencies’ budgets without making its own open?” he asked.