Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has insisted that the National Assembly has oversight powers over the executive.
He made this statement while delivering a keynote address at a 2-day summit on Intergovernmental/Party Relations and the Budget Reform Process for sustainable development in Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday.
Dogara said: ”Over the years, legislative oversight has been seen as more adversarial than cooperative.
”However, in conducting oversight, the principles of co-operative government and intergovernmental relations must be taken into consideration, including the separation of powers and the need for all spheres of government and all organs of State to exercise their powers and perform their functions in a manner that does not encroach on the functions of other arms.
”Seen in this light, the oversight function of the Legislature complements rather than hampers the effective delivery of services with which the executive is entrusted.”
Dogara said the outcomes and recommendations of oversight undertaken by the legislature should be eagerly received, studied and implemented by the executive as a measure of accountability, citing an instance where the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua requested for the report of the probe carried out by the House Adhoc Committee on Customs and Excise in the 6th Assembly under his leadership and started implementing the recommendations even before the report was adopted.
“I can give personal testimony that as chairman, House Ad-Hoc Committee on Customs, the report of the House investigation we conducted was requested for by him personally and he started to implement the recommendations,” he recalled.
“Each arm of government must take concrete steps to realize cooperative government by fostering friendly relations, assisting and supporting one another, informing one another of, and consulting one another on, matters of common interest, co-ordinating their actions and legislation with one another; and adhering to agreed procedures.
“The various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are constitutionally required to account to the legislature, and they should always avail parliament of the complete picture on performance of the functions assigned to them as the consideration of the annual report of the MDAs alone may not give the complete picture of the performance of the relevant functions.”
He added that said failure by these MDAs to adhere to resolutions of the legislature in accordance with constitutionally assigned powers, will lead to a high risk of zero budget allocation to them since appropriation is one of the tools it can use to enforce compliance.
”On the issue of legislative resolutions, one of the tools available to parliament in enforcing its Resolutions is the power of the purse as provided for by the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
“Any MDA that persistently disrespects a well-informed Resolution of Parliament may confront the power of parliament over its budget.. Over the years, legislative resolutions have been taken as merely advisory and hence enjoy a low level of compliance by the executive branch.
”I wish to strongly make the point that whereas some resolutions of the legislature are expressions of the will and views of the legislature, they most often do have practical, political and legal consequences. Resolution is also a mechanism through which the executive obtain expressions of opinion of important stakeholders to assist it in framing its policies.
”In jurisdictions like the USA, UK and India, parliamentary resolutions are taken seriously and level of implementation reported back to parliament. We should consider adopting these models in Nigeria.”