The leadership of the National Assembly has insisted that all donations from corporate Nigeria to mitigate the effects of the CORVID-19 pandemic should be in a single account.
The National Assembly also reminded the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 that according to the Constitution, all funds from the public purse is to be expended in a manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
These were the positions of the leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday when it met with the Chairman of the CORVID-19 Presidential Task Force, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and members of his team.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan commended the Presidential Task Force and said further: “We hear of donations made by various corporate organisations. But there is no coordination.”
He said he has information that corporate bodies have gathered up to N22 billion, “National Assembly, we have also made donations. I believe we must have a central body to receive and manage the funds.
” Whatever money has been raised by NNPC, the IOCs, everybody, should be in one account. Where the PTF should have a request, it should pass through us.”
The Senate President said a situation “where everybody is just collecting, will put us in a bad shape.”
He noted that in a situation whereby there is paucity of funds and the federal government is looking for N500 billion for intervention, the CORVID fund should be pooled together and spent in a transparent manner.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila seemed to be responding to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Hajiya Maryam Uwais
Uwais had said the inability of certain members of the National Assembly to include their personally selected candidates to be beneficiaries for the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) was largely why the programme came under attack by Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila said people should not be emotional or personal when NASS demands questions on appropriations
His words: “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 parties 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.” he said.
Mustapha said: “Our nation is at war against a very dangerous, unseen and ubiquitous enemy and all hands must be on deck to successfully prosecute the war.”
He urged the National Assembly to develop a legislative framework to prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic; develop a legislative framework for reforming and transforming our healthcare systems;
He said NASS should also “Strengthen the legislative framework for economic growth through domestic manufacturing; deepen the legislative oversight during this pandemic and beyond;
“Pass legislations that will further ease the ability of the executive to cushion the impact of the economic decline; and be part of community mobilization and enlightenment efforts”
He said the virus has spread to no fewer than 16 states with six deaths, even as he warned that there should be “no illusion that this case affects all and it is on all of us to play our part in solving this.”