"I can confirm to you that National Assembly members are brazenly harassing MDAs for bribes, using budget process and oversight," Buhari's appointee announced.
Some ministers appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari have accused National Assembly members of ‘harassing’ them with the 2018 budget defence because of their refusal to pay bribes to the lawmakers.
The National Assembly had blamed the heads of ministries, departments and agencies for the delay in the passage of the 2018 budget.
Head of one of the agency who craved anonymity alleged that the lawmakers are in a desperate move to raise funds for their re-election in 2019.
“The 2018 budget is the last they would consider before the next general elections,” Buhari’s appointee told PremiumTimes.
“Many of them (lawmakers) need money for re-election and they see this budget approval process as a way of finding the resources to prosecute their forthcoming elections. I can confirm to you that National Assembly members are brazenly harassing MDAs for bribes, using budget process and oversight.
“They have become very desperate this time. They ask pointedly and try to make life difficult for those who don’t play ball by summoning them endless times, asking irrelevant questions, asking for unrelated documents.
“I think they are desperately looking for money for election. I think they have also seen that they could do all these and get away with it, as the executive is not really pushing on anti-corruption against them.”
‘Employment and contracts’
The chief executive also accused lawmakers of seeking appointment and contracts from the various MDAs.
“Until this year, we have managed to manage ourselves. They did not ask for money directly and we did not give. Occasionally, they asked that we employ someone or some people or give contract to some companies. For those pointed demands, we would explain why we could not meet their demands and they understood.
“I had no doubt that some MDAs were even giving them money without their asking. I wanted us to be seen as one of the agencies that don’t give and hoped that they would let us be.
“But this year is different. They have become more direct and more brazen. Their new practice is to ask the chief executive to wait behind and go see their chair or their deputy chair. And they pointedly ask, what are you giving us?
“If they sense you are not playing ball, they do everything to frustrate you, ask you questions and not allow you to answer, ask you to come back over and over.”
“I am sure other heads of agencies are going through the same but I don’t know who will talk on or off the record. As I said earlier, they are desperately looking for money for primaries and elections, and they have seen that the executive is not really bothered about bringing them to order,” the source said.
‘Lawmakers are demanding cash’
Similarly, another head of MDA accused lawmakers of demanding cash.
“These guys (the lawmakers) are not even afraid anymore,” he announced. “They keep demanding cash and asking us to insert projects in our budgets for them. I can’t definitely satisfy their needs because I don’t want to go to jail because of some frustrated greedy lot.
“With all the millions they collect every month, they are still not contented,” he added.
‘We’ll pass 2018 budget on April 24’
Meanwhile, Speaker Yakubu Dogara says the National Assembly would pass the 2018 budget on April 24, 2018.
Dogara disclosed this at plenary on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.
Dogara noted that both the Senate and House of Representatives have agreed that the budget will be presented and passed on April 19 and 24, respectively.