We Need to Consult Oracle to Tackle Corruption in Nigeria, Says Lawmaker

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yunusa Ahmad has said there was need to consult the oracle to tackle the endemic corruption in the country.

Ahmad disclosed this yesterday, in Abuja, while fielding questions from journalists at the African conference on Debt and Development (AfCoDD II 2022) organised by Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).

The lawmaker insisted that the country has adequate laws to tackle corruption, but lamented that the act of stealing had been so perfected that it was so difficult to trace anything through paper. Ahmad added that the National Assembly has been playing its roles through oversight and also by passing of relevant laws that are in tandem with the reality.

“We played our roles. First, we assumed there were allegations of corruption. First, we check, is it the law that did not plug the loopholes? We looked at the law, studied them and then evolved laws that will be in tandem with the reality or modernity.”

Ahmad noted that one of the interventions made by the National Assembly was the enactment of Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Act, which is separate from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the enactment of the Money Laundering Act.

He added: “In over-sighting too, we try to ascertain to what extent are the laws being obeyed. We discovered everything is there. In Nigeria, when you are trying to find fault through the papers, you will never get anything because the papers are neat.

“But when it comes to practical issues, that is why mystique is there. Last week, you heard when termites ate billions, sometimes we had snake swallowed some money at JAMB. So, we really need to consult the oracle. The issue here is that the National Assembly is doing its job.”

Earlier, the Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. David Ugolor said the AfCoDD II 2022 brought together political, technical and civic leaders from Africa to deliberate and agree on commitments that safeguard the macroeconomic sustainability of the continent towards achieving a new debt movement and outlook on issues of domestic resource mobilisation and international development finance mechanisms in the African continent towards the structural transformation in Agenda 2063.

He said meeting was about national civic movement building in a sustained manner beyond the current debt crisis.

Ugolor noted that Nigeria’s total debt stock had remained on a steady increase in the past six years, saying statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO) showed that the country’s total public debt stock which comprised the debt stock of the federal government of Nigeria (FGN), the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stood at $100.07 billion as at 31 March 2022.

He said external debt stood at $39,969.19 or 39.94 per cent, while domestic debts stood at $60,100.70 or 60.06 per cent.

The Executive Director stressed that before now government has maintained that its borrowings were still within allowable limits and sustainable ratios.

According to details of the 2022 fiscal performance report for January through April, Nigeria’s total revenue stood at N1.63 trillion while debt servicing stood at N1.94 trillion, showing a variance of over N300 billion.

The Executive Director explained that Section 42(1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, provides that, “The President shall, within 90 days from the commencement of the Act and with advice from the Minister of Finance subject to approval of National Assembly, set overall limits for the amounts of consolidated debt of the three tiers of government.

“However, since the enactment of the FRA in 2007, the consolidated debt limits of the federal, states and local governments have not been set by any President,” Ugolor stated.

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