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Senate panel seeks financial autonomy for African parliaments

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The Senate Committee on Finance has urged African parliaments to alter their country’s constitution and the law to specifically give full autonomy to the legislature over the funding of their operations.

Chairman of the committee, Senator John Enoh (APC, Cross River State), made the suggestion in Abuja yesterday at the end of a three-day capacity building workshop for Liberian legislators by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS).

While lamenting that executive dominance weakens parliamentary operations particularly the exercise of legislative oversight, Enoh said electorates will not be well served if parliamentarians do not have sufficient resources to carry out their constitutionally mandated functions.

He said: “The legislature has enormous oversight roles in effective management of public funds. A sound legal framework must exist for legislative financial oversight even if the presidency has wide constitutional power.

“In spite of legal framework in place, legislative financial oversight is weak in many parliaments.’’

According to Enoh, “Strong political party influence and imperial style of presidency may hamper effective legislative oversight.

The Director General, NILDS, Professor Ladi Hamalai, said the workshop was specifically designed to build a bridge for capacity development for members of the PAC in both countries.

Meanwhile, Senate President, Bukola Saraki has said administrative lapses have delayed transmission of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

Insisting that the National Assembly would ensure that the country’s oil and gas witness necessary reforms before the 2019 general election, Saraki said the eight assembly would not leave any stone unturned in ensuring that the industry is properly reformed to international standards.

At a public lecture organised by the Institute of Oil and Gas Research and Hydrocarbon Studies, in Abuja at the weekend, Saraki, who was represented by the Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Senator Gershom Bassey, said the delay in the PIGB alone is costing the country over $20 to $30 billion foreign direct investment yearly.


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