A former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has said transparency and probity in the nation’s budgeting process, are the only means to avoid manipulations and padding of the document.
The member representing Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency of Kano State on the platform of All Progressives Congress made the suggestion in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday.
Mr. Jibrin, who said he had identified solutions that are crucial in tackling “individual and systemic corruption in the House”, also listed e-parliament, one of the key points on the Legislative Agenda of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, as another effective way of making the budget process responsive.
He posited that e-parliament would allow Nigerians to follow the due process.
The former appropriation committee chair said the solutions struck him while he was suggesting ideas on how to end budget fraud in the National Assembly to members of the Prof. Itse-Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption last Wednesday.
He said: “The most important reform here is to ensure that budget estimates and details are returned to the floor of the House at the same time for passage.
“This will check the fraudulent insertions by some standing Committee Chairmen and Principal Officers in the process of budget passage.
“It is such gap that allowed Speaker Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa, Leo Ogor and few other committee Chairmen to perpetrate such monumental fraud in the 2016 budget.
“On the mismanagement of the internal budget of the House, the most important reform the House must embark on immediately is to ensure that the internal budget of the House must be circulated to members and made public so that Nigerians can see the expenditure of its elected officials.
“The running cost of members must be adjusted to a reasonable amount and made public but most importantly, the administration of the running cost must not be exposed to abuses as presently obtained.
“If these measures are carried out, we will not see such secrecy in running cost and monumental fraud in the management of the finances of the House and award of fraudulent and fictitious contracts under the watch of Speaker Dogara and the Chairman Houses services, Babanle Ila”.
Mr. Jibrin said the National Assembly could become transparent and efficient if it implements mechanisms that are in tune with modern day realities.
“On the issue of lack of transparency in the affairs of the House, every Member of the House of Representatives who loves this country must embrace the concept of open House. If we must tell ourselves the truth, the House operates as if it has so much to hide. And indeed it does have!
“The House must move quickly to implement e-Parliament to include a very functional website that can help track members activities, sitting attendance, movement of bills and motions, voting pattern on issues.
“There is also the need to activate the House intercom system so that our constituents can call a member straight on his office desk! I am aware many NGOs have offered to build some of these platforms free of charge but the House has refused to accept”, Mr. Jibrin said.
The lawmaker said he told the anti-graft panel to compel Mr. Dogara to refund the N40 billion proceeds of fraudulent manipulation of the 2016 budget, saying the funds could make an impact at this period.
“I have also offered to help remedy some of the fraud committed by Speaker Dogara and others in the 2016 budget. I have suggested that the N40 billion stolen can be returned so that it can be equitably distributed to all constituencies”, he asserted.