National Assembly is to henceforth engage Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, on all its oversight functions.
This came just as it asked President Muhammadu Buhari to allocate ten percent of the entire 2016 budget to agriculture, saying such preference was necessary considering the dwindling price of oil in the international market.
The development followed criticism from different quarters that the legislature has not lived up to its core mandates of legislation, oversight and representation.
The engagement of the civil society groups in its oversight, according to the legislature, was the fallout of a four-hour interactive meeting it held with Civil Society Organisations on the 2016 budget.
These were contained in the report of the Senate and the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations, submitted to the Senate in plenary, on Thursday, by Senator Rose Oko, PDP, Cross River North, which were considered and subsequently adopted.
The legislature, which frowned at the proposed allocation for the sector in this year’s budget, insisted that it must be reviewed upward in order to support the growth of small scale farmers in the country.
The Rose Oko-led committee, in its report, added that the implementation of the 2003 Mapu Declaration of allocating ten percent of the entire annual budget to agriculture should be honoured.
Speaking to journalists on the thrust of the report, the senator promised Nigerians of effective monitoring of the 2016 budget implementation by involving various civil society groups in oversight functions.
Oko stated.the eighth Senate had resolved in its legislative agenda that it would engage, very robustly with major stakeholders.
She stated.civil society groups remain major stakeholders that are critical to the success of the current administration’s determination to tackle corruption and achieve fiscal discipline.
The senator added that the contributions of all CSOs that participated in the interactive session with the National Assembly on the 2016 budget would be taken into consideration and absolved by the federal parliament.
“Going forward, the Senate has promised to involve adequately the CSOs in the process of budget passage, monitoring of its implementation and oversight on Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to curb corruption and extravagance,” she stated.
She stated.the Senate would soon draw out a programme of action that would bring on board, the CSOs in the area of oversight and other aspects of legislation.
“We will work out the details of the oversight since this is the first time we are experimenting such arrangement. The CSOs have also challenged us to be more open with our budget and we have assured them,” she also stated.
The committee, in the report, alleged that there were high inflation of contracts in projects being undertaken in parastatals in the Federal Ministry of Education, even as it noted with regret that the allocation to training of teachers was poor, given the increasing need for an overhaul of the quality of education in the country.
The committee called for the proper funding of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency to deal with oil spillages, adding also that climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts be matched by adequate funding in line with the recently adopted Paris Climate Deal.
The report stated.civil organisations made passionate appeal that the National Assembly publishes details of its expenditure.
– Nigerian Pilot