Apparently to put the records straight on the state of the country’s treasury, the House of Representatives yesterday prayed President Muhammadu Buhari to publish the handover notes he received from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan in the Federal Government’s gazette.
The lawmakers’ demand was prompted by a motion moved by Uzom Nkem-Abonta who lamented that the handover note was being held in secrecy as only the Presidency had access to the document.
Abonta, however remarked that “some extant laws may place restrictions on the publication of the document” even though it remains a public document.
The lawmaker argued that the “handover note would certainly have captured the activities, projects, programmes, achievements and constraints of the last administration, including counsel to the new administration on the way forward.”
President Buhari had on assumption of office, claimed that he inherited an empty treasury from Jonathan. His comment attracted reactions from key officials in the Jonathan administration and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which declared that the former President left $32billion in the coffers.
Abonta argued that the publication of the handover note would help the legislators, especially new members and other Nigerians have genuine information on the state of the economy and monitor activities of the Buhari administration.
Consequently, the House urged President Buhari to “publish, in the official gazette of the federation, save for information restricted by law, the handover note and the accompanying documents of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to enable interested Nigerians access it for information and record purposes.”
The resolution did not have a smooth sail as some All Progressives Congress, APC lawmakers led by the House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Pally Iriase, opposed it.
They said that since the Freedom of Information Act had made provisions on how such documents can be accessed, the House should not dissipate energy on the matter.
Gbajabiamila asked Abonta to in the alternative, present a bill that would culminate in the promulgation of a “National Transition Act” which would take care of all issues on transition and handing over.
Hon. Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) argued that the executive, being a different arm, had the right to prepare handover notes just like the other arms of government.
He explained that the contents of such note could be gotten through the Freedom of Information, FOI Act and canvassed that since the note
might be considered sensitive security matters, it would not be safe to throw it into public domain.
In his contributions, the House Minority leader, Hon Leo Ogor, noted that the content of the motion did not in any way call for investigation, but rather asked for the way forward for the new administration.
In its resolution, the House resolved that the handover notes and accompanying documents of the past administration be published in the official gazette of the federation.
It also resolved that copies of the handover note should be made available to all members of the National Assembly to enable them determine individually or collectively, the state of the nation as at May 29, 2015.
Meanwhile, the House on Tuesday raised a 17-man ad hoc committee to screen the recently appointed Service Chiefs.
The committee is headed by Hon. Garba Datti (APC, Kaduna).

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