Assures the President of Diligent Oversight Functions
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, has stated that less than 2 percent of Nigerians are corrupt, adding that this group of people are highly placed people in the society.
Dogara, who stated this while delivering the vote of thanks at the formal presentation of the 2016 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in the House of Representatives chamber, also declared that President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption must succeed for the sake of the remaining 98 percent of Nigerians.
The speaker said, “The college of Nigerians favourably disposed to corruption is a small one, terribly small: indeed if a census were conducted, it would show that less than two percent of Nigerians have that disposition and that the real practitioners would number not more than one percent. Make no mistake, though few in number, they are very loud because they have the means. In accordance with the dictates of democracy they may have their say but the majority must have it’s way. It will therefore amount to despicable failure of governance to succumb to the shenanigans of this terrible minority by subjecting the fate of the 98 percent non corrupt Nigerians to their sinister designs.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Mr President, distinguished colleagues, this is one war that must not only be won but must be won expeditiously and decisively if the change mantra is to deliver ultimately. It is a divine second chance for Nigeria to pull herself out of the vicious circle of debilitating poverty, inequality, squalor, unemployment, graft and insecurity; indeed it is the season for the enthronement of good governance.”
While stressing that the war against corruption is not a tea party, he warned that there have been orchestrations in certain sections of the media subtly discouraging prosecution of the anti corruption war. He also stated that they tend to focus on the methodology of the war and other sectional, partisan or even primordial considerations, rather than the devastating impact of corruption on the society.
While thanking the president for a well crafted budget, the Speaker charged him to ensure that there is implementation of the budget for it to be effective.
He noted that while the National Assembly will endeavour to diligently scrutinise and pass the budget in good time to facilitate early commencement of it’s implementation, it may be necessary to take a second look at the constitutional definition of Financial year.
“Section 318 of the Constitution defines a ‘Financial Year’ to mean ‘any period of twelve months beginning on the first day of January in any year or such other date as the National Assembly may prescribe’,”.
He stated that, “The National Assembly, going forward, may need therefore, to prescribe another date as the financial year in line with provisions of Section 318 of the Constitution, whenever the budget is not passed before January 1 in any given year. The letter and spirit of the Constitution requires that the Financial year shall not be less than 12 months. The date of commencement of the financial year may change but not the 12 months period, it seems.
“Consequently, if this proposal is accepted, it may become imperative that the 2016 budget may commence 12 months from the date it is signed into Law by Mr President. A budget may have a realistic chance of implementation when the Executive has 12 uninterrupted months to execute it. Mr President’s Change Agenda can only be realised for the benefit of the Nigerian people when his policies and programmes are faithfully executed. This proposal would need to be effected in full consultation with the Executive branch.”
Rt Hon Dogara also assured the president that the National Assembly’s oversight function will be diligent, thorough and intensive to check corruption and diversion of public resources as witnessed in what is “known as Armsgate.”
“This has proven that oversight must include following not just project implementation but also the security and sanctity of unspent budgeted funds. On our part and in the spirit of change that has come to this Legislature, we promise Nigerians to hold Mr. President to every word, line and provision of the budget when passed and assented to.”