The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Godfrey Utazi, has expressed the readiness of the Committee to support the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in the discharge of its duties.
Speaking at the 2016 budget defence session held on Tuesday at the National Assembly in Abuja, Mr. Utazi said, “We are here to assess your budget performance for last year with a view to ensuring that the EFCC is strengthened.”
The lawmaker, who called for probity and accountability in public offices, added that the essence of the committee’s oversight functions so far had been to know the challenges facing the EFCC.
Also speaking at the session, the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, who thanked the Senate Committee for its continued support, expressed the hope for a cordial relationship between the EFCC and the National Assembly.
He explained that the total approved appropriation for 2015 was over N10.4bn.
According to him, “The Commission received 100 per cent personnel funds in 2015, 50 per cent of capital appropriation and 87 per cent of overhead appropriation.
“The proposed budget for 2016 is as follows: Capital Expenditure – N11, 422, 991, 540 (Eleven Billion, Four Hundred and Twenty Two Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Naira); Overhead- N2, 999,245, 671 (Two Billion, Nine Hundred and Ninety- Nine Million, Two Hundred and Forty- Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy- One Naira and Personnel as proposed by the Ministry of Budget and Planning – N6,664,040,791 (Six Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty-Four Million, Forty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety One Naira).’’
Mr. Magu stated that the commission could not give a figure for its own personnel budget because the 2016 personnel budget template designed by the Ministry of Budget and Planning only made provision for detailed nominal roll without estimate; hence, the Commission was not in a position to justify the ministry’s proposed figure.
He urged the committee to consider the EFCC’s proposal favourably, saying, “The Commission’s ability to fight corruption will be adversely affected if not adequately funded. Some of the areas that could be affected negatively include personnel, overheads, operations and capital projects”.
In his remark, a committee member, Senator Hamma Misau, said the budget for the EFCC was not enough.
According to him, “If you look at the body language of the President, EFCC has not even started. We need the EFCC to be able to do more. I think EFCC has done a good job. This is the first time an agency is bringing just N39million for the purchase and maintenance of vehicles.
“We cannot claim to fight corruption without properly equipping the EFCC. The National Assembly is supportive and we cannot just be supportive with our mouths. We have looked at the projections and the shortfalls and there is no meeting point. This is the final bus-stop in terms of allocating resources. We will tinker with the budget and see what can be done to help the EFCC.’’
Mr. Utazi further explained that the Committee’s oversight functions so far had kept it in an informed position.
He added: “We have seen what you have on ground. This country is not saving resources by paying rent. You cannot be doing the kind of job you are doing around hotels. Your new head office is a matter of priority.
“You have made a good defence. We have listened to you and now the ball is in our court and we will make sure things work well.”