The President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, yesterday, blamed said the current ordeals of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, over allegations of financial impropriety, on the failure of the last National Assembly to carry out its oversight responsibilities effectively and diligently.
Senator Saraki, who also blamed the National Assembly for the cases of abandoned projects across the country, said that if the apex legislative institution had done its constitutional duties of supervising the executive arm, the rot being witnessed would not have been the case.
The President of the Senate made the blame while contributing to a motion entitled “abandonment of projects: a menace to development in Nigeria”, sponsored by Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC, Bauchi North).
Saraki argued that the legislature, which would have carried out oversight to ensure that the money appropriated for arms purchase was strictly used for the purpose it was meant for, failed to do so, thereby resulting in the on-going scandal over misappropriation of funds by Dasuki.
The Senate boss however, maintained that the 8th National Assembly, which he is the chairman, would live up to its constitutional responsibilities by not allowing such development to occur in this dispensation.
He said, “distinguished colleagues, I think we have shied away today from one of the main reasons because some of the projects are duly appropriated in the budget and embarked by various ministries and agencies; and the motion, whether we like it or not is a partial indictment on us in the National Assembly, and we must accept that.
“These projects that we are talking about under Section 88 of the Constitution, 1(a) (b), it is our responsibility to oversight these functions and these projects to ensure they are not abandoned and to ensure that the funds appropriated are properly addressed.
“So distinquished colleagues, I want us in this 8th senate to ensure that our committees carry out proper oversight and we the leadership, are going to ensure that we too find a way to make sure that committees do their work on oversight because truly that is the bottom line to this.
“Even the current investigation going on in the National Security Adviser’s Office, also whether we like it or not in a way too, again the oversight function of the National Assembly is brought to question. We must play our roles in the area of oversight because if we don’t do it, at the end of the day this is what we will get.
“Please distinguished senators of the 8th Senate, I want us to make a difference, that we should really carry out our oversight functions and we will put a system in place where we will be asking the committees to give us the situation of their functions and the oversight that they are doing so that this should be things of the past, and we should move forward in providing a new way by which the National Assembly carries out its functions.
Earlier, while leading debate on his motion, Senator Nazif said that about N7.78 trillion was needed to complete the projects abandoned all over the country by the federal and state governments.
He also pointed out that eleven thousand, eight hundred and eighty six (11,886) projects were the total number abandoned across the country.
He observed that public infrastructures accounted for most of the abandoned projects, and that the said projects were awarded based on considerations given to friends even when they did not possess requisite technical knowledge to execute such projects.
He blamed the practice on inconsistency of government policies and wondered why new governments were fond of abandoning old projects when they come into office.
He said: “Previous governments embarked on weekly charade of awarding new contracts or re-awarded old ones at higher prices during its weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meetings. The desire for ego credit taking, rather than genuine service delivery was behind the drive for new projects and abandoning of old ones.
“Abandoned projects fuel corruption and reduce public confidence and trust in governance. Factors such as poor planning, inadequate budgeting, delay in releasing project funds, which led to project executing delay, increased contract cost variation and contract splitting in order to give jobs to friends are the major reason for projects abandonment,”he noted.
After a thorough debate on the motion, the Senate urged the government to set up a project performance and monitoring task force to severely punish contractors who collect mobilization funds and disappear.