Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
As Nigeria grapples with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has accused the National Assembly of abandoning their duty post when it mattered most.
CUPP spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, charged the National Assembly to resume plenary immediately, to pass key legislations that would aid the fight against the pandemic.
The National Assembly had adjourned plenary abruptly on March 24 for two weeks following the coronavirus outbreak. However, it could not resume plenary on April 7, because of the lockdown imposed on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ugochinyere said what the majority of Nigerians expected from the National Assembly was for it to reconvene and pass legislations that would complement whatever the executive arm of government was doing in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
He regretted that members of the National Assembly have failed to live up to expectations. According to him, whereas state assemblies, like the Lagos House of Assembly, had passed between about four legislations on coronavirus, the federal legislature had not been able to push through a single legislation.
“The parliament has failed in this time of need. First of all, they ran away from their responsibility; they went home. These are people with fat allocations and budgetary expenditure. This is the moment for them to push anti-coronavirus legislations to strengthen whatsoever the government is doing. But they ran away,” Ugochinyere said.
The CUPP spokesman also criticised the bid of the National Assembly to legislate over donations made by individuals and private organisations to support the government in the fight against COVID-19.
He stated that the parliament should be more interested in the oversight of public funds, rather than on donations by individuals and organisations.
“The lawmakers have not finished legislation and oversight of public funds that is being frittered away. Now (they) are interested in the funds donated by Good Samaritans. What they are doing is diversionary. The parliament should hold the executive accountable. The priority should not be on donation. We are talking about a situation where almost N100 billion is claimed to have been pumped into palliative. You have made appropriations for the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in the past, what has the parliament done in terms of oversight?” Ugochinyere queried.