NASS members have ‘commercialised’ oversight function- ICPC

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, has said that members of the National Assembly most times compromise their major constitutional functions of oversight and investigation.

Owasanoye stated that as a result of the comprise, especially through commercialisation of their activities, the members lack the will to carry out their constitutional roles of oversight.

The ICPC chair made this statement while delivering a paper titled ‘The Role of the Legislature in the War Against Corruption and Graft’ on the last day of the induction course for the second batch of elected members of the coming 9th Assembly.

He said “We should avoid a situation where because people are being investigated, they come to say they want to change the laws to forestall that. I want to urge the lawmakers not to support that.

“Oversight function has been commercialised, which is why the mechanism hasn’t been effective. Legislature is accused of passing the costs to MDAs and of accepting other forms of gratification, eg foreign trips, phony seminars, to look the other way.

“The Legislature has powers of investigation: this was very well utilised in the past. But many other times, the power is commercialised. You find out that the investigators become compromised in the process. There’s lacuna on what the legislature should do with the findings,” he said.

The ICPC chairman also challenged the lawmakers to make the details of their budget public.

“Since 1999, the Nigerian Legislature has never shown any seriousness in scrutinizing the reports of the auditor general. NASS Budget rose from N6.9bn in 1999 to N139bn in 2018.

“There’s no country in the world where the legislature budget is up to one percent. But the question is there’s no breakdown for the amount. It is opaque and disproportionate. If you make the details, it may even lead to the need for more funds. Why would the legislature demand the details of agencies’ budgets without making its own open?”

Again, IMF raises concerns about Nigeria, says IDPs rising in number

After declaring that the debt to GDP ratio of the country was becoming too risky, the International Monetary Fund, IMF, on Friday said it was concerned with the rising number of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the country.

The IMF said this on Friday in Washington DC in its latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa report presented by Director of the IMF’s African Department, Mr Abebe Selassie.

The IMF further said that the current number is five times higher than what it was 20 years ago.

The report also showed that IDPs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo stands at 4.4 million people, South Sudan 1.9 million and Nigeria 1.7 million.

Speaking further, Selassie said that economic growth in the Sub-Saharan region was expected to increase from three per cent in 2018 to 3.5 per cent in 2019.

“Some 21 countries, mainly the region’s more diversified economies, are expected to grow at more than five per cent and see income per capita rise faster than the rest of the world on average over the medium term.

“However, the remaining countries, comprising mostly resource intensive countries, including the largest, Nigeria and South Africa, are expected to see slower improvements in standards of living.

“Overall, sub-Saharan African countries need to strike a delicate policy balance between containing public debt levels, investing in human and physical capital and raising revenue.

“This calls for urgent action on the fiscal front to improve tax revenue collection, public financial management and spending efficiency.

“On the trade front, countries should reduce non-tariff barriers and deepen intra-trade integration including in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” Selassie said.

According to the report, growth in Nigeria was 1.9 per cent in 2018 and is expected to reach 2.1 per cent in 2019, driven by recovering oil production and a pickup in the non-oil economy in the aftermath of the election.