Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has said that the executive arm of government in Nigeria was more corrupt than the legislative and judicial arms.
A statement from the commission’s spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, said Owasanoye spoke while delivering a lecture titled, ‘The legislature and fight against graft and corruption,’ at the 9th National Assembly Induction Programme for new legislators in Abuja.
Owasanoye told participants that members of the legislative arm would also continue to be branded corrupt by the public until the arm made its yearly budget public.
The statement said, “Corruption thrives more in the executive than the legislature and the judiciary.
“The ICPC boss based his assertion on the fact that the aggregate budgetary allocation to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) year by year was more than that of the other two arms combined, thereby allowing corruption to thrive.
“Corruption in the executive is far more than the legislature and judiciary combined. This is because the executive spends a far bigger chunk of the money appropriated.”
The ICPC said its boss also frowned at the way National Assembly conducted its statutory oversight functions on the MDAs, noting that asking government departments and agencies to fund the oversight was inappropriate.
“The power of oversight is largely impotent because it has been commercialised. The legislature is accused of passing the cost to MDAs and of accepting other forms of gratification, for instance, foreign travels, phony seminars, etc. to look the other way.”
While berating the National Assembly for the secrecy surrounding its budget, the ICPC boss said at the lecture that huge allowances due to the lawmakers had increased in high proportion between 1999 and 2018 even though the number of members at the National Assembly had not increased.
The statement added “The ICPC boss spoke on the alleged outlandish allowances of members of National Assembly and the controversial issue of constituency projects. He said that the public perception of legislators as being corrupt would not go away until the National Assembly throws open its yearly budget to the public.
“He stressed that the execution of the National Assembly budget, which has grown exponentially from N6.9 billion in 1999 to about N139 billion in 2018 for the same number of legislators has remained shrouded in secrecy thereby giving room for allegations of abuse and misappropriation of the funds.”
The ICPC boss said that Nigeria had the highest paid legislators representing the poorest people in the world, adding that since 1999, National Assembly budget had increased without defensible legal or moral justification.
“‘The public is hardly told the breakdown and how it (National Assembly budget) is used. The criticisms will disappear if we are told how it is spent,” the ICPC chairman noted while describing corruption as the enemy of development and good governance.
He, therefore, enjoined the 9th National Assembly to move away from the presumed norm and chart a new course which would aid the fight against corruption.
Responding, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, told the gathering that he had canvassed for a complete disclosure of the budget of the National Assembly to put an end to the numerous accusations of corruption against members.