Senate President Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, promised to visit the alleged corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and that the Senate, under his leadership, would fix the amount the corporation could spend to run its operations.
Saraki said this when member groups of the Civil Society Situation Room, led by the convener, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, paid him a visit in Abuja.
The senate president lamented that the non-provision of operational budget for income generating federal agencies had been responsible for leakages in government’s revenues.
“Such era where there was deliberate non-provision of operational budget for agencies of government to function was over,” he said, assuring his guests that the 8th Senate would, on resumption from its current break, promptly attend to the 1999 Constitution Amendment bill, the 2011 Electoral Act Amendment Bill and the Petroleum Industry Bill.
He said, “Some of us have strong views that issues of budget must be transparent; the days are gone when agencies like the NNPC would be functioning without operational budget.
“We must move away from that because one of the key issues that we have now is the issue of revenue leakages due to lack of transparency.”
The Senate President noted that some of the bills were critical to the current reform project of the Federal Government, hence, they would be given accelerated attention.
He said, “You have raised a number of bills, one of which is the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which is key to deepening the electoral process.
“More importantly is the Constitution Amendment Bill, which unfortunately could not be assented to after all the work that was done on it.
“I can assure you that as soon as we resume, we will begin discussion on how to go about bringing all those bills that are people-oriented back with a view to fast tracking their passage.
“As soon as we resume, we will find a way of fast tracking some of these people-oriented bills that are still left to be attended to.”
Saraki assured Nigerians that the Senate would work hard towards ensuring transparency in governance.
He said, “On the issue of transparency of oversight, we will work very hard to see the areas where there can be improvement on our part.
“As duly elected representatives of the people, we will work closely with every stakeholder in our onerous task of building a prosperous, secured and egalitarian society, where the dividend of democracy will be felt by the people.”
He urged the CSOs to be more proactive and constructive in their approach to issues.
He said, “I recognise the importance of Civil Society Organisations in a nascent democracy. You have done creditably well so far. On our part as legislators, we will be open, transparent and accept to work together as a team in order to transform our abundant resources to the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“The Senate President assures you that the senate under his leadership will be steadfast and improve on our oversight functions.
“The budget processes will be transparent, we will continue to prevent revenue leakages and enact laws that are relevant to the welfare of the people.”
Nwankwo said his group visited to seek partnership in the governance process of the country.
He solicited the support and partnership of the National Assembly while highlighting areas of cogent interest, such as bills on People living with disability; Electoral Acts (as amended); PIB and the Constitutional Amendment which he prayed the Senate to ensure its effective implementation.
Nwankwo promised to work with the National Assembly to evolve issue-based legislations.