REMARKS BY SENATOR CHUKWUKA UTAZI, CHAIRMAN SENATE COMMITTEE ON ANTI-CORRUPTION AND FINANCIAL CRIMES DURING THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA, HOLDING AT THE NAF CONFERENCE CENTRE, OCTOBER 18, 2016.
The National Assembly Joint Committee on Anti-Corruption, comprising of the Committees in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, thought it expedient, given the series of happenings within the polity, to organise a Conference on the Role of the Legislature in the Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria. This is how we came to be here. The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) considered it an important subject requiring further scrutiny and enlisted to join in the organization. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Union are supporting the Conference while the Africa Development Studies Centre is the Consultant.
There has been debate out there what really is the limit of the powers of the Legislature in the budget process. Does appropriation, as provided in Section 81 of the Constitution, include the power to adjust the proposals of the executive? Or does Section 81 foreclose any input from the legislature, other than formal passage of the proposals? What is the meaning of the phrase “budget padding”, as it relates to the legislature? How much further can the National Assembly legislate to strengthen the fight against corruption, a subject President Muhammad Buhari has made a cardinal pillar of his administration, and for good reasons, considering the deleterious effects of corruption on the fabrics of our society? What deficiencies or inefficiencies in the current corpus of law can the Legislature, leveragingon its constitutional mandate, legislate to cure to achieve a broad participation and more popular ownership of the fight against corruption? With all of Mr. President’s arduous shuttle diplomacy, why has the willingness of countries to release proceeds of looted funds stashed abroad not translated into actual release of the funds? What International partnership deficits are hampering our efforts? Where, in this chain, can the National Assembly come in to ease the process? What consensus can the National Assembly build with other stakeholders to achieve a more robust fight against corruption? How can we replicate the level of determination as demonstrated by the President at the State and Local government levels to achieve integration of the fight against corruption in Nigeria?
These are the questions this conference seeks to comprehensively look at. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which Nigeria signed in December 2003 and ratified in December 2004, recommends 60% attention to be given to preventive measures, as the most effective corruption control mechanism. It is important that stakeholders aggregate towards institutionalizing preventive mechanisms.The methodology by which this can be done will be discussed during this Conference. However, we recognize that prevention is no substitute for sanctions. Every society must deter derelictions. That is why the current focus on investigation, indictment, prosecution and conviction should continue in view of the realitiesof the Nigerian nation.
With these brief remarks, Excellencies, let me yield the floor to my Colleague, the Chairman of the House Committee on Anti-Corruption to read the Joint Committee welcome address.