We have not conducted any oversight of army projects since 2016, senator reveals

THE Nigerian Senate has not conducted any oversight of procurement projects managed by the Army and has paid a physical visit to the Army headquarters only once since its establishment, Abdullahi Danbaba, the senator representing Sokoto South Senatorial District, has revealed.

Danbaba, who is the vice chairman of the Senate committee on the army, pointed the finger at George Akume, the chairman who was absent at the plenary, for the committee’s ineffectiveness as a result of bad leadership.

While raising a point of order on Thursday and addressing orders 14 and 15 of the Senate Standing Rules, the senator said he is worried the committee has not evaluated any army projects since its creation over three years ago. The only supposed oversight exercise conducted, he alleged, was a 2016 visit to the army headquarters.

“We were all elected by our constituents to come and represent them here and also by extension represent entire Nigeria. Fundamentally, we are supposed to legislate and to support our constituents and also undertake oversight with respect to projects that are being executed by the executive arm of government,” the lawmaker said.

“I want to say that a committee that I am a vice [chairman] which has been constituted over three years has not been actually performing as a result of leadership. The committee, since its inception, has not oversighted [sic] any army project. In fact, the only oversight that has been said to be oversight was our visit to the army headquarters in 2016.”

Beyond this one-time visit, he said, no “proper oversight with respect to the activities of the Nigerian army” has been done. He added that, because of this negligence of duty, the Senate has been detached from the Nigerian army and does not know what is going on in the component of the Armed Forces.

Danbaba also blamed the committee chairman for the delay in the consideration of a two-year-old draft bill and pleaded for the intervention of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

“I want to say this again, there was a draft bill that was referred to about two years ago. That draft bill is still lying down on the table of the clerk of the secretariat of the committee because the leadership of the committee has not been able to give direction on what to do with the bill,” he disclosed.

“So, in view of all these anomalies, I hereby call for the committee on ethics and privileges to ask to investigate as to the conduct of the committee and why the committee leadership is allowed to stand as it is because the name of the Senate is going to be brought to disrepute.”

    In reaction to the lawmaker’s motion, Bukola Saraki, the Senate president, suggested that Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, meets with the committee members and chairman.

    “I know that for you to have brought this matter up, it must be something that is of great concern to you,” he said.

    “What I will consider is, let the leader of the Senate meet with the chairman and the vice chairman and members and report to us on some of these points that have been raised. The committee is a very strategic committee, as such, we must be seeing to play a role.”

    On Wednesday, Saraki had given 14 senate ad-hoc committees, mostly set up in 2017, one week to make their reports available to the legislative house. He said addressing reports from the committees and considering reports for passage of bills will be prioritised in the days ahead.

    'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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