It is to the National Assembly that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria assigns the authority to oversee appropriations from the public purse. The appropriation role does not terminate upon passage of the budget. It continues through oversight of disbursements from the federation accounts and implementation of funding priorities. Where the National Assembly limits itself merely to pass the budget, it has abandoned its fundamental obligation and failed in its duty to the Nigerian people.
The right of the National Assembly to request for and receive detailed reports on government expenditure is sacrosanct. It cannot be subject to the dictates of any institution at home or abroad, and it cannot be constrained by the preferences of executive functionaries no matter how well-meaning.
The foundation of all oversight is access to data. We cannot serve the demands of our role in the national legislature if we cannot ask for and receive detailed reports on the administration of public funds. To suggest that the National Assembly cannot or should not exercise its oversight responsibility over government expenditure, based on agreements entered into with any third party at home and abroad is contemptuous of the Nigerian people on whose behalf we exercise this authority.
We will continue to demand and expect to receive the information that will allow us in the National Assembly to make informed decisions about the National Social Investment Programs. We will also continue to work towards institutionalising the operations of the National Social Investment Programs through legislation, in the best interest of our country. We owe this duty to the people who have sent us here.
It is not the present intention of the National Assembly to undermine efforts to provide for the poorest of our people. We do not intend to throw aspersions on the individual reputations of those who manage or have managed the National Social Investment Programs.
Our interventions are not in service of politics or personal ambitions. We simply have a responsibility to ensure that funds belonging to the Nigerian people, and held in trust by the Federal Government are managed transparently, with records properly kept and available now and in the future. We fully intend to meet this responsibility.
The letter is a page from the well known playbook. The oldest trick in the book. Throw in something negative about the legislature and you have a good diversion from the real issues. The issues remain the same and willl not go away. Where is the register ? Who are those registered ? How did you come about the names ? What is the geographical spread etc. These are hard and stubborn questions we must ask no matter how uncomfortable they are.
To suggest that the legislature cannot ask probing questions will be to remove an essential ingredient of our democracy, checks and balances and once we set this precedent, our democracy itself begins to wobble.
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