The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) has called for more funding for members of the National Assembly (NASS) for effective monitoring of budget implementation by the executive arm of the government.
Director General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, made the call in Abuja recently while lamenting the difficulties and challenges faced by the standing committees in the NASS in carrying out their oversight functions.
Speaking during a visit by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) FCT Correspondents Chapel, Prof. Sulaiman said proper funding will ensure standing committees of the NASS to carry out their assignments without fear or favour.
“There are issues that border on oversight assignments, and I keep saying those issues will not be corrected until we provide more funding for the parliament to do their oversight, and that is what Nigerians will not want to hear.
“When the parliamentarians are going to oversight Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL) and the only vote of budget you could give them is N3 million to oversight an agency that will remit trillions, and you say they will not be vulnerable?” he queried, adding “then, we are just deceiving ourselves”.
He added: “When the agencies you are to oversight are the ones funding the oversight, then the oversight is dead on arrival. Proper funding of oversight functions of the parliament would ensure accountability and transparency on the part of the committees”.
Speaking further, Sulaiman said media practitioners have a role to play in the reportage of oversight functions of the parliament with the view to probe and scrutinize the executive arm of government in budget implementation.
He said journalists are critical stakeholders in democracy and, therefore, have the statutory responsibility and role in keeping Nigerians abreast of the workings of their elected representatives even beyond sitting for the proceedings during the plenary session.
He said Nigerians have the right to know that the parliamentarians are only charged with the responsibility to make laws, oversee, and represent their constituents, and not to physically implement projects like road construction.
He said the press is not just a stakeholder but a cornerstone that has been the bridge in giving feedback on what Nigerians are going through and what the government is doing.
On his part, the Chairman of NUJ FCT Correspondents Chapel, Comrade Jide Oyekunle, commended the Director General of NILDS for his untiring and unrelenting efforts in enriching and deepening the reportorial knowledge and skills of members through periodic capacity building, particularly those covering the National Assembly.
He said the visit was aimed at bringing to the notice of the Director-General the need to extend the capacity building to other journalists in various beats, such as the judiciary, finance, crime, energy, health and others, in order to acquaint them with the workings of the legislative arm of government.