President Muhammad Buhari’s crusade on Corruption is targeted on politicians instead of civil servants who are charged with budget implementation, a few Nigerian lawmakers have said.
Legislators are attending a legislative retreat on budgeting for health at the Pan Africa Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Today, the most beautiful houses in Abuja are owned by civil servants, whereas the anti corruption war is on politicians,” said Jonah Jang, a senator and former governor of Plateau state, who has been accused of mismanaging billions of naira while he served as governor.
For his part, former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji lamented that senators are labelled the most corrupt people in Nigeria, which in his view, is not true.
“What I had in mind when I was coming to the Senate is not what I am seeing,” said Mr. Orji.
“I came to a senate where we are labelled the most corrupt people in Nigeria. While you cannot say we are all saints or sinners but we are not all corrupt. I said the legislators have been given power to do oversight functions in other countries….Even when you go for oversight functions, it is never implemented…..most time you have to lobby the executive to implement oversight reports.”
In the same vein, Lanre Tejuosho, Chairman of Senate Committee on Health, said there is no money to steal under the present administration.
“There is nothing to steal because there is no new money to steal. If they are labelling members of the National Assembly as thieves, they may be referring to people before us, not this 8th senate. We are new members and there is no money to steal in this government,” said Mr. Tejuosho.
In his remark, Mao Ohuabunwa from Abia said those accusing the National Assembly of corruption are ignorant of the workings of the legislature because it is not an implementing agency.
“Nobody has accused the parliament of corruption unless the person does not what he is talking about. This is because the parliament is not an implementing agency. We don’t have allocation to execute contract,” said Mr. Ohuabunwa.
The lawmaker said the National Assembly has always been blackmailed from the outset but urged his colleagues not to shy away from doing their jobs.
“What we need to do is to keep engaging the public because for them it is about tarring roads and building water borehole and we must not shy away from doing our jobs because people are blackmailing us,” said Mr. Ohuabunwa.
“The presidential system of government is different from the parliamentarian. If you want to run the presidential system as it ought to be, it is a very expensive venture. As far as I am concerned the National Assembly is underfunded; we don’t have consultants; even committees don’t have any consultants.”
Another senator, Sonny Ogbu Oji, vice chairman of the appropriation committee said in comparison with the national budget, the National Assembly’s budget has been on downward slide while the national budget keeps increasing.
“The parliament is one of the less developed arms of government. People do not see the contribution of parliament in government, it will take some time. As long this continues we will continue to be vilified,” the lawmaker said.