OPEN UP NASS BUDGET TO PUBLIC SCRUTINY, CSOs TELL SARAKI
A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) under the auspices of Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to open up the National Assembly budget to public scrutiny.
The CSOs, in a letter, which was submitted to Senate President, gave two weeks ultimatum to the Senate to address the issues raised because of they called its failure to provide leadership for a more accountable system both within the National Assembly and in the larger governance architecture despite all the entreaties, advocacies and agitations.
Olanrewaju Suraj, who read out the content of the letter to journalists at a news conference in Abuja, said the organizations were ready to mobilise Nigerians from all walks of life to mount an occupation at the Senate if the upper chamber of National Assembly fail to act swiftly on the issues.
The organizations and personalities that signed the letter included Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani – Executive Director – Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Eze Nwagwu - Say No Campaign, Faith Nwadishi – Executive Director – Centre for Gender and Development, Yunusa Zakari Ya’u - Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Chido Onumah – Coordinator – African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Naseer Kura – Executive Director – Basic Rights Action (BRA) and Debo Adeniran – Executive Director – Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL).
Others were Kemi Okenyodo: Partners West Africa, Nigeria, Ibrahim Modibbo – Executive Director –Democrats of Conscience, Shamsideen Yusuf – Centre for Democracy and Development, Muhammed Attah - Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative, Dr. George-Hill Anthony - Niger-Delta Budget Monitoring Group, Dr. Bunmi Awoyemi - Citizen United for Peace and Stability (CUPS) and Emeka Betram – Executive Director – Person with Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET).
They said since the 8th National Assembly recently compelled such hitherto opaque agencies like FIRS, CBN and NNPC to subject their budget to scrutiny, it is important that the National Assembly follows the rule it has set for other agencies and institutions by making its own budget open for public scrutiny.
They also implored the Senate to do an immediate review of its budget and spending, streamlining it in consonance with not only the present realities of the country but the everyday living conditions of majority of Nigerians.
They further urged Senate President and other principal officers of the Senate to show commitment to transparency and accountability by publicly declaring their assets.
"We demand urgent status declaration of pensions and gratuities received by former governors and deputy governors presently in the Red Chamber and receiving multiple housing and transportation allowances both as former state executives and serving Senators. We also urge you as the leader of the National Assembly to set an example by making your declaration of asset public," the letter read in part.
To demonstrate commitment to the fight against corruption, they advised Senate President to put in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure that the issue of a substantive chairman for the EFCC is dealt with as expeditiously and transparently as possible.