…say checks will include adherence to federal character principle
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, has revealed that the National Assembly will soon launch an application known as ‘NASS Eyes’ to monitor budget transparency and implementation by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
The monitoring will also include adherence to the principle of federal character by the affected MDAs.
Kalu, who dropped the hints during a courtesy call on him by the management team of AFRILABS, a high-tech company, over the weekend, said that the mechanism is driven by the conscious effort of the parliament to effectively check the performance of budgetary allocations to the agencies of government.
He said: “So, while you think about the economic and entrepreneurial space, also think about innovations in leadership, through technology. How do we employ that in our oversight functions, so that we can be in our offices, heading our committees and also monitoring what is happening in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government; so that our oversight functions will not only be based on the bundles of papers submitted to us on the day we visit these MDAs, but a continuous analysis of what they are doing, day in, day out.
“A dashboard that is in the Parliament to see what is being captured in the MDAs will inform members of the Parliament better, so by the time they visit it, they would have gotten sufficient information that would help them oversight tax payers money more efficiently. It is something we must think about.
“We are thinking in that direction and we are about launching what we call the ‘NASS EYES’, the eyes that will be beaming the MDAs while they are working. They will be expected to upload some of the key performance indicators that we will give to them.
“From there, we will analyse and have a better understanding of their budget performance, even before budget presentations, because, some of them come for budget performance presentation and it is rushed, within few hours it is done. That is not well detailed!
“We need innovations, we need technology to drive that, so that we can dig and get beyond paper work, what you have done.
“Also in budgeting, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, innovations and technology will help us to know whether the NEEDS analysis are critical and are part of the budget, not somebody sitting in the office here in Abuja and be imputing anything they want into the budget when they have no social economic impacts on the lives of the people that the budget is meant for.”
Kalu also underscored the need for the deployment of technology in the oversight functions of the parliament, saying it would not only gauge the efforts of the government agencies but also give the needed boost to e-Parliament for the overall benefits of the people.
“It is technology that will help us drive that. It is also technology that will help us know whether the constituencies are being impacted sufficiently by the constituency projects that are being managed by the members of the parliament as well as the MDAs spread of projects; to know whether section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the part B of it, with regard to federal character and as it affects projects, if they are well spread, equally, fairly, equitably across the nation, or not.
“There is no magic to this, except through technology. So, you see the scope of your work goes beyond just business and economics of our country. But I also have confidence, that what has driven you into the business space with innovations, will also push you into the leadership space to make sure that we increase the level of accountability and transparency in that aspect,” the Deputy Speaker said.
Earlier in her presentation, the Executive Director of AFRILABS, Mrs. Anna Ekeledo, told the Deputy Speaker that their company is providing multilateral support systems to many organizations across the African hemispheres in terms of capacity building, among others.
“We run programmes, working with international organisations, multilateral and development finance institutions, whereby we identify innovative solutions across various sectors, sections such as you know, financial services, for example, climates.
“Basically, what we do is, we support innovation hubs which have infrastructures on ground, all with physical centres across the African continent. Right now, our network spans across 53 African countries and over 200 African cities.
“So, in all of these innovates, in all of these spaces, we have young innovative entrepreneurs and then we run programmes that are in for capacity building, funding and financing. So we also mobilise financing as well to entrepreneurs. We also have a fund called Catalytic Africa, which is a matching fund for African start-ups,” Ekeledo said.