As Budget Padding Saga Expands In Scope, CACOL Says Diligent Investigation Paramount

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The Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, has reiterated the Coalition’s call for diligent investigations and circumspection in handling the revelations from the allegations of Budget padding in the Federal House of Representatives.

The CACOL Leader was speaking against the background of the almost daily expansion in scope of the ongoing imbroglio over allegations of Budget padding allegedly perpetrated in the Green Chambers within the processes of evolving the 2016 National Budget. He said, “it is gradually becoming clearer if we approach the scenario within the ambit of circumspection and rational thinking that indeed, corruption Is deeply seated in our body polity as a country, which makes it possible for scenarios like the present one to keep rearing their ugly heads so regularly.”

“The episode brings to the fore the challenges of a corrupt system trying to cleanse itself of corruption. Let us assume without conceding and without prejudice to what diligent investigations may lead to; the allegations in the present saga if established to be criminal in any way also implicate the whole Legislature as an arm of government and the Executive.”

Adeniran traced the saga from point it came to public knowledge saying, “Since the former Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin opened the ‘can of worms’ over Budget padding in the 2016 Budget, the story has remained an expanding and developing one. The story has moved from allegations to counter-allegations, from public outcry for a probe to the emergence of a group within the House of Representatives called the ‘Transparency Group’ agitating for same, from petitioning to law suits etc. Agencies like the Department of Security Services, DSS, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC are said to have been given the nod by President to perform their statutory roles in handling the disturbing episode.”

The CACOL Chairman, queried, “we ask, how is it possible that the Executive and the Legislature combined did not detect this Budget padding before the Appropriation Bill was passed into law? Given that the reasons adduced for the delay in assenting the Bill to become Act were predicated on padding and procedural issues on two occasions, how come that in spite of the seeming ‘clinical scrutiny’ an ‘inclusion’ of as much as 40 billion naira could go unnoticed till now? If assume that the Green Chambers hatched the padding plan and implemented it, how come did the Red Chambers not notice the padding? Why do we have a bicameral parliament if not for the sake of checks and balances?”

Probing further, he asked “equally, the Executive that presented the Bill could also be asked how it missed it out this padding, especially because it prepared? The ‘padders’ from this saga appear to smarter than the Executive and Legislature combined. This is why we call for circumspection in dealing with this, we believe it is only a thorough interrogation of the complexities, particularly the fundamentals to the background of the Budget padding story. That way, we as a country can decipher the means and ways of engaging the evil called corruption that bedevils our polity, to very objectively progress in the battle against the Frankenstein monster.”

In concluding, Adeniran said “we hasten to state that our position is without prejudice to what the constitutionally empowered law-enforcement and anti-graft Agencies are doing or going to do on this matter. As a matter of fact we call for expedited action so that we as a country can draw our lessons from the saga; apply punitive against any judicially established criminalities in the padding episode, and move forward with the stance that ‘Never Again’ shall we be caught in this kind of messy situation.”

“To avert occurrences like the present one in future, the country needs to review all the laws that govern the funding of the National Assembly to vest more power in the Bureau of Public Procurement, Accountant-General and the Auditor-General of the Federation to monitor financial inflow and outflow to/from the lawmakers in order to make it even more difficult for the them to access money from public coffers.

The Accountant General and Auditor General should play supervisory roles on how the Legislature and their Constituency Projects are funded. Even if they pad the budget, they won’t be able to pocket it since such won’t escape the prying eyes of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Accountant-General and the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

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