By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating capital projects executed and funds repeated every year in the Appropriation Act since 2015 has blasted the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over failure to appear before it for the probe.
The Speaker, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila, who flagged off the hearing of the ad-hoc committee carrying out the investigation on Tuesday, frowned at the MDAs for failing to turn up for the probe.
The Speaker, who was represented by the Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, warned that the full weight of the law will be brought against anyone that takes the assignment of the ad-hoc committee for granted.
He said the exercise was not a witch-hunting process, but geared towards achieving a country that works for all.
He urged the MDAs to work closely with the committee to provide necessary information.
He said, “Permit me to also on behalf of the leadership of the House observe that a committee of this nature which has every mandate of the institution of the legislature to carry out this function and bordering on a very critical and important subject which also has a lot to do with corruption, transparency, public finances, I am compelled to say that I am concerned by the very low turn out of heads of public agencies and MDAs.
“I am concerned by the low turn out of relevant government officials to engage the legislature on this very critical assignment. I would have expected to come across on the floor of this public hearing, a minimum of permanent secretaries and perhaps all the public procurement directors in various agencies and ministries of government.
“But from what I am seeing, except if you (Committee) had some problems in terms of communications I want to believe that there is a kind of laxity of those agencies to really formally engage this assembly on this very important critical assignment.
“It is on this note, Mr Chairman, I would like to urge you and also direct on behalf of the leadership of the House of Representatives that you have every mandate of this institution and you have available to you all the instrumentalities of the legislature to enforce on any agency that takes this assignment with laxity or takes it for granted.
“This institution, the House of Representatives, and by extension the National Assembly, would not take lightly any agency of government that would for no reason try to take for granted the good relationship we have between the executive and the legislative arm of government.
“Buhari’s administration, everybody knows, is an administration that is bestowed with a duty, a self-imposed duty, to fight corruption and this is an assignment that borders on corruption. It is therefore our expectation that we must be seen to be working on the same page. The government is committed to fighting corruption. The legislature under the leadership of Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila is also one institution that does not tolerate corruption. Zero corruption is our expectation in government agencies and MDAs,” he said.
Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Rep Abubakar Makki Yalleman, said the committee was was established by the House resolution 118/12/2020 to verify and provide detailed reports of all projects executed and repeated in the budget from 2015 till date.
He appealed for the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders to achieve the objective.
“The task before this ad-hoc committee is huge and important because appropriation related matters remain the only tool that the government utilizes and translates policies, projects and programmes into reality that is to impact the lives of the entire citizenry,” he said.
He urged MDAs to provide accurate information which is supported with facts to assist the committee in the discharge of its task.
He urged those yet to their make submission to the ad-hoc committee do so urgently as the would accept any excuses on plea of ignorance.
Representatives of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) appeared before the committee on the maiden investigative hearing.
The Director Finance and Accounts of the NUC, Mr Sam Onazi, who presented some documents was given a week by the committee to provide details of funds released from 2015 till date, which was unavailable.
Also, the Director Finance and Accounts of the EFCC, Mohammed Joda, presented documents requested by the committee and was told he would be invited at a later date to answer questions on them.