I had very important takeaways from my meeting with the Presidential Committee Against Corruption. It is unarguably a committee of distinguished professionals, elder statesmen and erudite scholars with unblemished record.
One of the key issues I made case for was focusing attention on institutional reforms, which must be implemented to tackle the individual and systemic corruption in the House, while connecting same with the offenses, culprits and following up to ensure that justice is served.
In broader terms, all the allegations raised so far fall under misuse of appropriation powers (budget fraud), mismanagement of internal budget of the House and lack of transparency in the affairs of the House.
On the misuse of appropriation powers to commit fraud, the House must with immediate effect reform the budget process with fresh guidelines that have grounding in transparency and probity.
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, 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.
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.
We must all join hands to push for these reforms with immediate effect in the House. The consequential effect of the reforms will tackle the fraud in investigative and oversight activities of the House which have become a conduit pipe for extortion and corrupt practices.
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 N40billion stolen can be returned so that it can be equitably distributed to all constituencies.
Also, in view of the fall in our revenue projection, I can help identify a lot of wasteful insertions in the budget by Speaker Dogara and others running into billions so that we can flush it out of the budget and save cost.
Similarly, I can also help the anti graft agencies to understand another kind of sophisticated systemic corruption in the House using the 10 billion naira allocated for constituency projects under the SDG in 2015 budget as case study. This case has become a huge scandal in the House with members threatening to beat up the Whip of the House Alhassan Doguwa at several executive sessions. The Whip and Speaker were alleged to have received kick-backs and also shortchanged members on the items that were supplied.
While I will continue to expose corruption in the House, I will vigorously pursue these wide ranging reforms that, as an insider, I know can be implemented immediately as a quick win, while assisting and cooperating with the anti-corruption agencies in investigation and prosecution of culprits.
I am therefore available to cooperate with anybody or group that will join force with me to ensure that these reforms are implemented immediately in the interest of our beloved country. God bless.
Kiru-Bebeji Federal Constituency