By Christiana Ekpa
The Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye has advised members of the National Assembly to “make peace with the media” so as to end negative media reports against them.
The ICPC boss who noted that bad “news sells” stated this while facing budget performance questions from the House of Representatives Committee on Procurement on Wednesday.
This was just as the committee grilled the chairman and his management team on the implementation of the 2019 budget with respect to capital allocation, questioning why the Commission would procure used vehicles instead of brand new ones provided for in the budget.
Asked to explain why his interventions since assuming office have focused mostly on members of the National Assembly and the status of constituency projects, he said the commission handles virtually anything that relates to project implementation both from the executive and the legislature, “but the media chose to publish what it likes, and it appears they have issues with the National Assembly”.
“When we tour projects for assessment and verification, apart from ICPC officials, civil society people are there, the NBA and other professional bodies go on these tours including the media, but the media chose to focus on those ones that have to do with the National Assembly.
“The executive people also come to ICPC to defend the status of projects, but they don’t get the level of media focus and reportage that those of the National Assembly do. So I will suggest you make peace with the media, as it appears that the media has issues with the National Assembly.
“It’s not that we set out to target some people, because, if we focus on projects done by the Hon. Chairman, it would becloud peoples rating as targeting, but the bottom line is that Nigerians must see the ratings in terms of quality, and percentage of work done relative to the funds spent”, he said.
On why the Commission decided to buy used auctioned vehicles when the budget provided for brand new ones, the Director of Procurement who refused to state his name when the chairman and his team was approached by journalists for the same, stated that the agency had to take advantage of Customs’ auction to procure some operational vehicles.
A member asked if the budget provided for the purchase of used vehicles, he said the allocation was for operational vehicles.
The lawmaker again asked how many vehicles were provided for in the 2019 budget, another ICPC official said the auction was for N16 million which was however below the budgeted sum of N17 million, adding that the vehicles are however in good working condition.
Another lawmaker asked if the vehicles were brand new ones and if the budget provided for used vehicles instead of brand new ones, the commission said “it provided for operational vehicles”.
The committee chairman, Rep. Nasir Ali Ahmad (APC, Kano), told the Commission to make more detail available to members so as to ease the process of understanding and intervention.
Members reminded the team that budget defense is a process that is demanded by law for the purpose of ensuring value for taxpayers’ money.