Former Chairman of Nigeria’s Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Hamman Tukur, is not happy with the way the country’s National Assembly for wearing the toga of a demi-god and refusing to be financially regulated like other arms and levels of government.
To Tukur, who spoke in an interview with Premium Times, an online news platform, said members of the National Assembly now allocate funds to themselves and pay themselves without recourse to the Commission.
He however blamed the Commission for not proving its mettle especially as derived from the laws establishing it and granting it powers.
According to Tukur, who served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, such impunity at the National Assembly would not have happened during his period as head of the commission that was supposed to fix salaries and monitor how such is implemented.
“In those days, the commission had very serious members who would not accept anything from anybody. They knew their job and were ready to do it the best way they could. That is not the situation today.
“The way the Commission allows the National Assembly members to pay themselves is not right.
“In those days, the issue of ‘brown envelops’ to members did not arise. Nowadays, the members don’t even want to go away,” he said in the interview.
Asked why the commission is unable to stop the alleged huge and illegal allowances to the National Assembly, Tukur stressed: “it was not a question of not being able to stop it, but because of the pressure from Labour. We told them (Labour) in a circular some time ago that every single naira any member of the National Assembly receives outside what the commission approved was illegal, null and void.
Who then approves the money to the National Assembly? Tukur said it was not the commission even though the commission has some knowledge of how the funds get to the members.
“I would not tell you the Commission did not know, because it was our job to know. But, we knew as much as we knew, and what we knew was what we approved.
“One time, they invited us to the National Assembly, and we said let us start by asking: ‘who approves your budget?’
“They started walking out from the meeting. And that is how the meeting ended. How can you as a National Assembly, the legislative arm of government not be answerable to anybody?
“All information about budget is always on the executive, which defends its budget before the National Assembly. But, we are in a democracy. People must know,” Tukur, who spoke on other issues, said.