#TrackNigeria: A Director at the African Centre for Parliamentary and Constitutional Studies, Mr Emmanuel Anyaegbunam has urged the 9th National Assembly (NASS) to strengthen the budgetary procedures in the country.
Anyaegbunam said this on Wednesday in Enugu during a two-day training for members of the NASS.
The training was organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from MacArthur Foundation.
He said that the call had become necessary as Nigerians seemed not to have reaped from the benefits of successive national budgets since the return to democratic rule in 1999.
He said that national budgets were expected to be a solution instrument, but said it was sad that Nigerians had not been able to reap the benefits due to corruption.
The director said that trillions of naira had been expended through the budgets since 1999 but such were mostly not accounted for.
“We, as a nation, have not been able to reap the benefits of our budgets because of our unbridled culture, corruption and lack of seriousness in every sector, especially, the civil service have brought us to where we are.
“We cannot account for where the money goes and no evaluation process,” he said.
Anyaegbunam said that for the fight against corruption to impact on the national budget, the NASS needed to either repeal or scrutinise existing laws.
He said that the Public Procurement Act was one of such laws that needed to be implemented by the Federal Government to ensure a better budget regime.
He said that it was sad that the Public Procurement Council had not been inaugurated since 2007 while the Fiscal Responsibility Commission came into operation only once.
“We cannot pretend to be fighting corruption when we have not done the needful,” he said.
He said that it was necessary to reform the civil service since the service was responsible for formulating and executing the budgets.
“When you have no accounting system, monitoring and evaluation process in budget implementation, then it becomes a free for all,” Anyaegbunam said.
Mr Gabriel Onyenweife, representing Oyi/Ayamelum in the Federal House of Representatives, expressed support in the national anti-corruption agenda.
Onyenweife said that there were enough laws to fight corruption in the country but the political will to implement them was lacking.
He faulted the executive arm of government through the Federal and State Executive Councils for the role they usually played in budget implementation.
The lawmaker said that Sect. 20 of the Procurement Act gave the Federal and State Executive Councils no definite role in the procurement process.
Earlier, the Programme Manager, Democratic Governance of CISLAC, Mr Okeke Anya, said that the training was to set agenda for the 9th NASS.
Anya said that corruption had been the bane of development in the country, adding that the NASS had a lot to do in combating the menace.
Anya called on members of the NASS to be more open in their activities with a view to reducing unnecessary negative opinions about the legislators. (NAN)