By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The crisis between the Presidency and National Assembly over the 2016 appropriation bill yesterday deepened as the House of Representatives Committee onAnti-corruption denied adding over N4 billion to the budget of Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The National Assembly was accused of padding the budget of the CCB with N4 billion in a report that linked the allegation to the trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
But the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Babajide Akinloye, refuted the allegation in a statement he issued in Lagos yesterday, noting that the National Assembly did not pad the budget of the CCB with over N4 billion.
Akinloye, currently representing Eti-Osa Federal Constituency in Lagos, acknowledged that his committee “only rearranged the order and priority of the CCB at the request of the organisation.”
He added that the CCB had during the budget defence informed the committee that the working environment for its staff was not conducive at its five different offices scattered around Abuja and that this acts as impediment to its efficiency.
The committee chairman explained that after the 2015 budget, the CCB had returned over N230 million hitherto earmarked for the building of its head office in Abuja to the coffers of the federal government.
But after due engagement with its management, Akinloye said it was agreed that the CCB “can either continue with the Head office project or buy a building that will accommodate their operations for optimum service delivery in its anti-corruption drive.”
Akinloye therefore explained that the agreement between the committee and the CCB management culminated in the inclusion of N4 billion for the CCB head office project in the budget sent to the President.
He said linking the approval of the CCB head office project in the Budget passed by the National Assembly “to Saraki’s trial “is the highest act of blackmail and sheer falsehood against the National Assembly in whole and the House Committee on Anti-Corruption in particular.”
He said the committee in its oversight responsibilities had engaged in robust interactions with other agencies such as the ICPC and the CCT corruption war “is supported with resources to achieve their statutory duties,” wondering why the CCB issue is raining dusts”
He said while the executive “is mandated to prepare and lay before the National Assembly a proposed budget detailing projects to be executed, it should be made clear that the responsibility and power of appropriation rests with National Assembly.
“In sound democracies, the Executive do not expect the Legislature to return the budget proposal, hook, line and sinker the way it was presented to the Assembly to it without any adjustments.
“The wishes of my people back home and several millions of Nigerians is the accelerated implementation of the budget which should fast-track the needed developments and reduce the untold hardships and not all these baseless allegations which are indeed, uncalled for,” the lawmaker said.