Senate lacks power to probe bailout funds – Osun assembly

Osun State assembly

Osun State House of Assembly says an attempt by the Nigerian Senate to probe the application of bailout fund amounts to an usurpation of power of the state parliament.

The Assembly made the declaration following a matter of urgent public importance raise by the Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Kamil Oyedele on the propriety of the Senate to probe the bailout fund.

Voice of Nigeria recalls that the federal government, about a year ago, extended bailout fund of N28.1 billion to Osun State, along with other states when they could not meet their financial obligations, including salaries.

The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, has in a statement stated that the Senate had written a letter to the state government on its decision to visit the state to probe the fund and its disbursements.

Citing Section 128 of the Constitution, Oyedele said the state Assembly is the arm of government empowered to carry out such probe.

“There was a budgetary provision for the application of the fund and the state legislature was carrying out its oversight function by monitoring the fund,” he said.

Oyedele, however, urged the Assembly to invite the state government officials and other relevant bodies in charge of the disbursement of the fund, with a view to investigating it.

Federation

Reacting to the development, the Speaker, Mr Najeem Salaam remarked that while the Assembly is not at loggerheads with the National Assembly, the Senate must work within the limit of its powers and in accordance with the letters of the constitution.

He stressed that the state assembly had not failed in its responsibility, especially on the bailout fund and other state finances.

“We are in a federation and the federating units are co-partners. None of the units is subservient and each of these units has its limit. Hence, the decision of the Senate to look into the accounts of this state is out of point.

The state government has the authority of this parliament to get the fund and if there is any issue, we are the ones empowered to probe and make a recourse to the National Assembly if there is need for such.

As I speak, we have not received any letter from the Senate relating to the issue of bailout fund as colleagues. Probably the Senate has forgotten that we are colleagues, only areas of jurisdiction are different,” he said.

The Speaker reminded the Senate that the fund is not a grant but a loan that would be paid back, stressing that there had been budgetary provisions for the fund.

He advised the Senate to focus on issues affecting the nation in order to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in his Change agenda.

While stressing that the parliament has never defaulted in the monitoring of the disbursement of the bailout, Mr Salaam said the stance of the Senate may force the Assembly to make its monitoring public,

Consequently, the Speaker directed that the state Accountant-General, Permanent Secretary of Finance, Permanent Secretary of Budget, Permanent Secretary on Local Government, the Debt Management Office, as well as the Wema Bank, First Bank and Zenith bank to forward the details and the account statements on the fund to the House, in addition to appear before the Assembly on Wednesday, December 7.