Akin Akande, Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Special Duties on Thursday visited the State House, Abuja as part of their oversight function.
The Hon. Nadu Karibo-led committee took a tour of some ongoing projects in the Presidential Villa and met President Goodluck Jonathan afterwards.
They had also inspected the State House Medical Centre, located in Asokoro.
The President assured them that his administration places emphasis on oversight, checks and balances as well as monitoring and evaluation.
Jonathan told the lawmakers that their visit should help to bridge communication gap between the legislature and the executive, stressing that it was even more significant since it was the first time such a thing had taken place.
“If a section of the legislature is responsible for oversight even for the State House, it is very good that they will visit, to come and see what is going on there and to inspect the administration,” President Jonathan said.
“Even the executive arm of government places a lot of emphases on oversight and checks and balances on monitoring and evaluation,” he added.
The President noted further that both the executive and the legislature were traveling to the same destinations “and that destination is to serve the people.”
“It is a question of commitment to delivering service and this shows very clearly that both the legislature and executive are working together,” he said.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the visit, Hon. Karibo, said the committee was impressed at the development going on in State House especially the extension work at the Medical Centre, which he said members were delighted to learn was open to people apart from the President and State House staff.
His words: “What really impressed me was the extension work going on at the State House Medical Centre and I was surprised.
“My initial impression was that State House Medical Centre was only for the President and the State House Staff but I observed that those who are not even State House staff have access to that medical facilities.
“It is really impressive and we also observed that there is extension work going on there, a new site is being developed, probably to cater for the upsurge of the people going there for treatment. We also saw other aspects of the State House.
“The impression is not what you expect. The impression was a very good one and like I told you, I was impressed with the fact that outsiders have access to those facilities. We also saw the renovation work going on in parts of the Villa here, we went through.
“We are very happy that the President would open his doors and enable members to come freely and do oversight. I think this is an unprecedented. It is not a usual everyday thing.”
On the perceived face-off between the executive and the legislature, the committee chairman noted that whatever disagreement that might have been reported was exaggerated.
He stated further: “The problem about Nigerians is that if you don’t quarrel with the executive, you are not doing over sighting, you are not doing your work well and any little disagreement, any little misunderstanding between both arms, which is very usual in politics is often overblown.
“It is not out of place for the a House of Representatives to do investigations, to ask questions when necessary, otherwise the relationship between the executive and the legislature is very very cordial.
“You can see us here we are over sighting the State House. That should be the parameter to see that the relationship is not as bad as people think,” he added.
He gave the assurance that the committee would look at the budget provision for State House and ensure that the ongoing projects were adequately captured.
“I don’t know yet whether it is enough or not but when the budget is brought before the House, we will look at it again in the next year’s budget, it will capture the new projects that you have been doing,” he said.
“If there is any need to increase it, we will persuade the House to increase it. If there is any need to reduce it, the House of Representatives will reduce it,” he said.