Reps reject bill seeking to scrap NSIA


The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill that seeks to scrap the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA) and transfer its functions and assets to the Federal ministry of Finance Incorporated.

Many members of the House, who spoke against the second reading of the bill, were of the opinion that the agency was carrying out the functions for which it was set up, stressing that what needed to be done was the strengthen it and make it stronger to be able to discharge its mandate.

Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Toby Okechukwu said the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, the second Niger Bridge and the Abuja/Kano dua carriage way are projects being handled by the NSIA, stressing that “these are the only projects we can say for sure will be completed”.

Okechukwu argued that repeating and transferring the functions of the agency to the Federal Ministry of Finance will not be doing justice to the agency, adding that the excuse of that it was not being accountable to the National Assembly should not be a reason to repeal a law.

He said: “If an agency of government failed to be accountable or respond to calls from the National Assembly, that agency should be sanctioned and if possible, the Head of that agency should be sanctioned.”

Justifying why the law should be repealed and the function transferred to the Ministry of Finance, Sponsor of the bil, Oluwole Oke, said the core mission of the NSIA is to building a savings base for the Nigerian People, enhance the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure and provide stabilisation support in times of economic stress with the core value of discipline, Integrity and Transparency.

He said the Excess Crude Account, which was established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has been in contention with the NSIA and a source of tension between the State and Federal Government over its constitutionality and legality.

According to him, the establishment and administration has consistently been fraught with controversies and numerous illegalities, adding that contrary to the core values, it has consistently been that of total disregard for due process, transparency and accountability.

He said the National Assembly should take a final and definite position regarding its establishment, adding that the provisions of Section 162(1) of the Constitution is very clear as to where payments of all revenues of the Federation should be paid into, which is the Federation Account, that belongs to the entire Government of the Federation.

He stressed “the passage of the NSIA Act was first a breach of this very clear provision of the Constitution and this contention had remained open for a very long time. There is the need for the Legislature to correct the mistake that was made in 2011. The Parliament has the powers to right the wrongs and mistakes of the past.

“The provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear as to the procedure for withdrawal of funds from the Consolidated Revenue Funds and the condition precedent that appropriation must be made before any fund is released.”

He maintained that “the NSIA has historically being an agency of Government that has failed and blatantly refused to submit its spending to the appropriation powers of the National Assembly. A number of times, the various House Committees on Finance had engaged with the NSIA Management on the need to comply with this constitutional procedure but they have arrogantly and flagrantly declined.

“The implication of this is that the NSIA has gone to spend from the commonwealth of the nation without the authorization of the Nigerian people. This is a practice that has gone on for years, with established financial abuses.

There is therefore the need to put a stop to the waste and destruction of the future of Nigerians.

He argued that “notwithstanding the provisions of Part III of the NSIA Act, particular Sections 29 to 34 of the NSIA, which makes statutory prescriptions as to the ownership and revenue sharing principles to be followed in distribution of proceeds from the Fund, the management of the NSIA has been arbitral in their disbursement and distribution of funds and often times, do not even allocate and disburse funds to the State, Local Governments and the Area Council.

“This is a clear case of denial of funding due to our various constituents despite the fact that the original capital inflow for the NSIA would constitutionally have been allocated and disbursed to the States and Local Governments based on existing revenue sharing formula.

“In addition, the provisions of the NSIA Act and they practices it has adopted is a clear aberration of the provisions of Paragraph 32 of the Constitution, Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, which gives the RMFAC exclusive powers to review revenue allocation formula and principles that applies.“

He said further that the NSIA was also in conflict with the powers of the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying “the exclusive powers of the CBN has been usurped by the NSIA because it holds huge reserves of our Foreign currency, which reduces the reserves of the CBN and by extension limits the capacity of the CBN to respond to currency threats and defend the Naira.

“This is a clear usurpation and erosion of the Monetary Policy mandate of the CBN and may be accounting for some of the crisis the Naira is currently facing. There is the need to grant the CBN exclusive control over our FOREX inflow because they have the expertise and technical depth to manage it.

“One of the windows which the parliament can correct itself is to repeal or amend an existing Act. That is why I am here today. I want us to read section 162 of the constitution, vis a vis the Act we passed to set up this body.

“My prayer is that this bill be allowed to scale through second reading, so that we can carry out a very comprehensive work, invite members of the public to speak on whether this body doesn’t contravene section 162 of the constitution”.



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