Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Solomon Adeola, yesterday faulted plans by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to approve the 2016 budgets of revenue generating agencies.
The UNION reports that Adeosun had, during her briefing, after the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of this year, submitted that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other revenue generating agencies to submit their “budgets for approval”.
In an emailed statement issued by his Media Adviser, Chief Kayode Odunaro, Adeola, however, pointed out that only the National Assembly, according to the NCC Act, is empowered to consider and approve the budgets of the Commission.
Adeola stressed that any attempt by the Minister of Finance and the Minister to approve the budget of NCC in particular would amount to a breach of the law, and an encroachment on the function and power of the national legislature.
“I am surprise that the Minister was quoted as, including NCC among other agencies it would require to submit budgets for her and other supervising ministers to approve. As well intentioned as this may seem in the effort to generate revenue and block leakages, it is a fragrant contravention of the NCC Act, as well as usurping the power of the National Assembly to approve the budget of NCC,” he stated.
Adeola referred Adeosun to sections 17 to 21 of the NCC Act that dwell on the financial provisions for NCC.
He further explained what is required of the Commission, as stipulated in the Act.
“The only fund NCC is mandated to pay to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation is ‘all monies accruing from the sale of spectrum’, as contained in Section 17(3),” he said.
While asserting that NCC is a semi-autonomous commission in carrying out its functions, Adeola explained that the Finance Minister only comes in, if the NCC wants to borrow money.
“Section 25(2) of the Act expressly forbids even the supervising minister from undue interference. Thus, in execution of his functions and relationship with the Commission, the Minister shall at all times ensure that the independence of the Commission, in regard to the discharge of its
functions and operation under this Act, is protected and not compromised in any
manner whatsoever,” he added.
Adeola, who served as the Chairman of the House of Representative Public Accounts in the 7th National Assembly maintained that the proposal of the Minister to vet the income and expenditure of the Commission is a breach of Section 25(2).
He, however, supported the need to audit all revenue generating agencies as proper auditing of those agencies will clearly show how to block leakages, particularly those that are associated with the Service Wide Votes (SWV).