President Buhari, it would be recalled, had last Wednesday, during his maiden Presidential Media Chat, in Abuja, said he will meet with the National Assembly leadership, this week, with a view to compelling the Assembly to submit themselves to the TSA, which according to him, is designed to weed out corruption in governance.
The president further explained at the chat that he was having problems with the National Assembly because ‘they were refusing to subject themselves to the new policy of a Treasury Single Account, TSA, and were planning plan to buy new vehicles.’
“As for the National Assembly, we are having problems with them. I think everybody has to subject themselves to TSA as far as federal money is involved. I will explore that power to stop the expenditure of N50 billion for cars by the National Assembly.
“If I can turn down N400 million for the presidency that I do not need any new car because of the economy, I can’t see the National Assembly spending more than N47 billion to buy cars, on top of transport allowance they collect.
“I have to revisit that story. The budget for their transport allowance comes up to a N100 billion. With the kind of money that goes into the National Assembly, we have to look at it conscientiously and see how we can live within our means,” he said.
The president said he would call for a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the matter.
“We have to have a closed door session with them,” the president said during the media chat.
However, weekend, spokespersons for both the upper and lower chambers stated that they would not be part of the TSA, saying it amounted to ‘surrendering of their autonomy to the executive.’
Senate’s spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said though the upper house was in total support of the TSA, they would not be part of it. “There is no any trouble on TSA, it is as an executive programme and we cannot surrender our autonomy to the executive. Submitting ourselves to the TSA, is surrendering our autonomy to the executive. We are on the first line charge as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Why should we give you our funds to put in the TSA and then we will be subjected to your own control, is that autonomy? That is just the issue; we’ve given our total support to the TSA programme. As far as we are concerned, we cannot subject ourselves to it because it amount to mortgaging our autonomy.
“Our autonomy is guaranteed by the constitution and how our money should be paid is also guaranteed by the constitution. Are we saying our autonomy should be jettisoned? Are we a revenue generating arm? Are we saying that the constitution should be jettisoned, because somebody wants to do TSA? Are we going to put the Constitution aside and follow somebody’s wish? What we are following is constitutional,” he said.
He said the senate would continue to follow due process in discharging their constitutional functions, saying “if you are following due process, you are promoting accountability and by so doing, you are promoting good governance.”
Also speaking, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas said TSA is an executive policy, and that National Assembly as an arm of government was yet to be part of it.
He said though TSA was a good way of ensuring transparency and accountability in handling public funds, they as an arm of government should be allowed to operate with some level of independence. He maintained that they were yet to decide whether to be part of TSA or not.
“You know every arm of government has its ways of operations. The issue of TSA is an executive matter, and in as much as we want to work together with the executive for good governance, we are not part of TSA for now,” he said.