ABUJA- FORMER Chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Prof. Assisi Asobie, yesterday lampooned the National Assembly on its fight against corruption in the country, saying that both the Senate and House of Representatives were currently not doing enough in the fight against graft, just as he said that the issue must not be taken with levity.
Asobie who noted that the country should not concentrate on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, stressed that the government should rather focus on the office of the Auditor – General of the Federation, and the Code of Conduct Bureau because they report to the Public Accounts Committee of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
According to him, the current practice by President Buhari to use the EFCC and the ICPC to wage war against corruption was not the best way to achieve desired results.
Asobie, a former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, but currently a lecturer at the Nassarawa State University, Lafia, spoke yesterday in Abuja at the public presentation of two books written by Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, as part of activities to mark the 65th birthday of the pharmacist.
Meanwhile, the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda, (PDP, FCT), who also attended the book presentation, said the National Assembly, was doing its best to expose corrupt practices, but lamented, however that its resolutions were usually ignored by the executive.
Speaking further, Asobie who noted that the chairmen of the public accounts committees by convention, were members of the minority party, which ought to make use of the facts and figures before them to expose politicians, who who were covered by immunity, said, “The committees can make use of the Auditor – General report made available to them to investigate any agency of government including that of the presidency, so the president who is covered by immunity, could be investigated by the National Assembly.”
The former ASUU president who urged President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison his present ad-hoc way of fighting corruption and adopt what he described as an enduring strategic plan to tackle the scourge, stressed that the best institutions that could adequately address the issue of corruption was the National Assembly which regularly receives the report of the Auditor – General of the Federation and that of the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Asobie said, “The president cannot fight corruption using ad-hoc means. He should fight corruption with a strategy plan and the United Nations require that. When I was in NEITI, I was opportuned to put the anti – corruption briefs together and produce a draft strategy plan.
“That draft has not been approved by the executive council till now, we need a strategy plan so that we don’t fight corruption selectively and you don’t also politicice it.”
Asobie who noted that the situation of having the minority at the national assembly to carry out the job was made easier with the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as deputy senate president who is a member of the PDP, said, “If we have a situation where by the PDP chairs the public account committee and also has the possibility of presiding over the senate if the Senate President is not there, then the balance of power has been disrupted.
“The PDP senator is the chairman of the committee that can get information about corruption but the majority party will chair the Senate to balance it. But since there is a possibility that Saraki could be absent and then the person that would act in absence is a PDP member, that disrupt the convention and the nation would be better for it.
“What the National Assembly can do with the reports is impeachment which is targeted at politically exposed persons, that are protected by immunity but not protected by the National Assembly.
“Therefore National Assembly cannot take the issue of fighting corruption with levity with what they are doing now”.