Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki yesterday said the alleged arms fraud on which the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and some prominent Nigerians are presently standing trial is an indictment on the National Assembly, for failing in its oversight functions in the past.
Saraki said the legislature, which could have carried out oversight to ensure that the money appropriated for arms purchase was strictly used for the purpose it was meant for, failed in such responsibility.
The Senate President, while ruling on a motion titled: “Abandonment of Projects: A menace to Development in Nigeria” sponsored by Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC Bauchi North), said “this issue about Dasuki and the arms deal is a failure of the lack of oversight on the part of the National Assembly”.
“If we had done our job, this would not have happened. I think we shied away from our responsibility. This issue is an indictment on the National Assembly.
“It is our duty to ensure that projects are not abandoned and that funds appropriated are well used. This 8th Assembly must play its role”, he explained.
Saraki, who hailed the contributions of his colleagues on the motion, insisted that they have all shied away from their oversight responsibility.
“This is because some of the projects are duly appropriated in the budget and embarked by various ministries and agencies and the motion whether we like it or not is a partial indictment on us in the National Assembly.
“We must accept that because these projects that we are talking about under Section 88 of the Constitution 1(a) (b) it is our responsibility to oversight these functions and these projects to ensure they are not abandoned and to ensure that the funds appropriated are properly addressed.
“I want us in this 8th senate to ensure that our committees carry out proper oversight and we the leadership we are going to ensure that we too find a way to make sure that committees do their work on oversight because truly that is the bottom line to this.
“Even the current investigation goings on in the National Security Advisers Office also, whether we like it or not in a way too again, the oversight function of the National Assembly is brought to question.
“We must play our roles in the area of oversight because if we don’t do it, at the end of the day this is what we will get.
“Please, distinguished senators of the 8th Senate, I want us to make a difference, that we should really carry out our oversight functions and we will put a system in place where we will be asking the committees to give us the situation of their functions and the oversight that they are doing.
“So that this should be things of the past and we should move forward in providing a new way by which the National Assembly carries out its functions”, Saraki stressed.
Presenting the motion earlier, Senator Nazif said not less than 11, 886 projects worth about N7.78trillion have been abandoned by several contractors across the country.
According to him, “public infrastructures account for most of the abandoned projects and that those projects are generally awarded based on considerations given to friends even when they do not possesses any technical knowledge of the project”.
He urged the Senate to direct the federal government to set up a project performance and monitoring taskforce to severely punish contractors who collected mobilisation funds without execution of projects.
This, he noted would “help check unbridled wastage and corruption in abandoned projects, and by extension serve as a deterrent to others”.
In his contribution, Senator Aliyu Sabi (APC Niger North) urged the Senate to look at the issue of abandoned projects critically.
Senator Sabi called for structure strategy plan to ensure there is sufficient fund to complete projects, saying “even if projects have problems, there is a need for review to continue with the projects.
“We have committed ourselves to the issue of oversight which we must take it seriously. The ministries should be seriously oversighted to ensure projects are organised to make impact”, he said.
Also, Senator Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North) stressed the need to educate the leaders that govt is a continuum.
“Our leaders do not want to continue where those before them stopped, they want to leave a legacy and that is where the problem is. Another problem is contractors who collect monies and disappear. Again there is a need for close monitoring”, he advised.
Senator Theodore Orji (PDP Abia Central), also emphasised the need for the award of contracts are meant to create jobs that impact on the lives of all Nigerians.
He warned against introducing politics into project execution, adding that contractors need not blamed for contracts that are not properly funded.
“We have to ensure there is enough money when awarding contracts and we have to place a register to know which project is abandoned or not. If contractors carry out projects based on specification, they should be defended”, Senator Orji said.
He, however, advised that only projects fully paid for and abandoned should be investigated while those found wanting should be prosecuted.

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