…defends budget defence behind closed doors
The upper chamber of the National Assembly, yesterday, claimed it was not aware of the alleged job scandal involving some of its principal officers.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Adedayo Adedeye, who made the denial at an interactive session with journalists, said he had not heard anything about the said job scandal because he had been on a foreign trip and just returned to the country.
The media has been awash with reports of a job racket scandal in which an agency of the Federal Government allegedly offered a hundred job slots to the Senate, but these jobs were hijacked by a few members in the leadership of the parliament.
Adeyeye, who was fielding questions from reporters, said he was not prepared to dabble into the matter as he was yet to be briefed on it and would not want to peddle falsehood.
“I am supposed to issue facts. Honestly, I am just hearing about this matter. I am not aware of it. I will make contact with the committees to get the gist of their investigation. For now, I can’t say anything about it. I have not been in Abuja. Let me tell you, I have been extremely busy. I don’t even have the time to check my Internet at all. That’s the truth. I don’t have anything to say about this story. I need to conduct my own investigation, then I will brief you,” Adeyeye said.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, Danjuma Laah, on Tuesday, blew the whistle on the job scandal, alleging that the process was flawed as it did not reflect the principle of federal character.
Laah said his committee was investigating the alleged secret recruitment by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in order to unravel their level of compliance with standard procedures of recruitment in the public service.
New Telegraph learnt that already crisis is brewing in the Senate following the lopsided distribution of the 100 job slots offered to the parliamentarians as majority of those who were short-changed have vowed to fight back.
There are reports that the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan secured 26 of the job slots for his constituents in Yobe State. The jobs were said to have been offered by the FIRS and letters of employment were said to have been distributed to the beneficiaries.
The Unity for Collective Progress Forum, a youth association from Yobe State, had issued a statement confirming the job offers to its members. The association gave the breakdown of the number of beneficiaries and their local government areas. They include Nguru, 5; Karasuwa, 3; Machina, 4; Bade, 7; Yusufari, 4 and Jakusko 3.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs has defended the new trend in which standing committees in the red chamber are conducting the on-going budget defence in secret.
Spokesman of the Senate, Adeyeye, explained that though it was not an official policy of the 9th Senate, there could be instances where committees might want to conduct the exercise behind closed doors.
He said that in budget defence, the lawmakers are dealing with figures and doing so before the full glare of the media could be a distraction.
“It is not secrecy, but they need to do some serious paperwork like I want to do serious technical work I cannot do it under the camera. I want you to know that it is a serious matter for which they don’t need to play to the gallery.
“The thinking and attitude of people begin to change because of media presence.
Factually and genuinely, it is better to do budget defence in closed doors. The press can be called in and after the introduction, the press can leave.
“Sometimes, it depends on the committee. When considering the nitty-gritty of the budget, they may need their privacy and after the session they will call the media to say this is what we have done. There is no secrecy.
“We will try as much as possible to open up the Senate to the media because you are the vehicle through which our activities can be conveyed to the public. I have said that we will liaise with the chairmen of committees to brief you on their activities,” he said.
Adeyeye said that it might be too much for the media to expect to be present at every stage of the budget process because even the budget document was put together by the executive in the absence of the media.