CSO Petitions National Assembly, Seeks Steel Council Board Dissolution

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

A civil society organisation, Alliance For Credible Legislative Conducts (ACLC) has petitioned the National Assembly, seeking the probe of the National Steel Council Board.

It alleged that members of the board failed to obey the federal government’s order on the dissolution of Government Owned Agencies.

The Chairman of the ACLC, Mr. Shola Afuye, who disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja, yesterday, further alleged that the board members’ action was a flagrant abuse of office.

He lamented that the board allegedly disregarded the lawful orders of the President.

The group then called on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Audu, to cause the board to respect the directive of the President.

Apart from officially petitioning the National Assembly to do the right thing, the group threatened to mobilise its members across the country to stage a massive protest to draw the President’s attention to the recalcitrance of the board which he dissolved about 10 months ago.

Afuye, said the Senate and House of Representatives committees on Steel Development were specifically expected to call the board to order as part of their oversight functions.

“We are calling on the National Assembly to carry out oversight function on the Ministry of Steel Development.

“We want the federal lawmakers to urgently commence a probe into this flagrant disobedience to the lawful order of the President and ensure that the right thing is done.

“Should they fail to heed our call, we shall mobilise our members across the Federal Republic of Nigeria and stage a massive protest to draw the President’s attention to the illegality being perpetuated by the NSC board. “

Afuye, explained that on the 16th of June, 2023, in a circular signed by Willie Bassey, Director of Information, on behalf of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, President Bola Tinubu, had approved the dissolution of all Boards of Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies, Institutions and Government-owned Companies.

He said only those listed in the Third Schedule, Part I, Section 153 (i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, were not affected.

He said, “Recent findings showed that the NSC was among the bodies dissolved by the above extraordinary Presidential order as it is clearly not among those Commissions and Councils listed in the constitution and therefore not exempted from that sweeping directive by Mr. President.

“We have equally discovered that the NSC is not only a parastatal under the definition of the Public Service Rules, but a policy making body, that sets operational and administrative policies in accordance with government’s policies, and supervise the implementation of such policies.

“We are abundantly constrained to inform Nigerians today, about the utter disrespect for the orders of President Tinubu, high level of indiscipline,  and administrative rascality being extremely exhibited by the leadership of the Council, albeit with the acquiescence of Prince Shuaibu Audu, in the periphery of the NSC.

“We hereby condemn in the strongest terms the deliberate cultivated muscling of statutory laws against established provisions or rules guiding the NSC.

“We are also using this medium to call on the SGF, Senator George Akume, to enforce the presidential orders on boards, without exception beyond the illogical posture of the Minister of Steel Development.

“It might interest you to know that available records indicate that the Board had at infancy given series of approvals for vehicles, furnishing and office accommodation, where money was paid following the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the requisite accounting processes.

“However, some individuals within the Council that seemed ignorant of extant financial regulations sought to circumvent standard procedure undeservedly portending further and unnecessary expenditure that will duplicate government expenses on office accommodation and furnishings; which matter Minister Shuaibu Audu failed to recognise.

“We also uncovered other gross violations and abuse by the National Steel Council as follows: Gross violations of BPP Provisions and Procurement Act during its 2nd meeting held on Friday, 20th of August, 2023 in Abuja where the Council approved monetary threshold above the  Government stipulated threshold, which it did not have authority to do. 

“On the 9th of February 2023, the Council without the due consent of the Minister, who is supposed to be the regulator attempted to spend outside budgetary provisions, and against the rules of procurement.”

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