AFAS FLC: A Lion that must Roar Again

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Let’s begin this piece by telling a story. Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there was a house of enormous power, its presence shakes even the most unshakable presence, its decisions were most binding and followed to the letter, its instructions were carried out without any fault, this house was the unmovable force that moves the unmovable. This house, though struck fear, was that ultimate power that curtailed the excesses of those in power. It was this house that power chasing men fear so much that they imbibe integrity in them when trying to compete for positions. This house was admirable, it was the Lion who ruled the jungle, whose roar strikes fear in all and calls all leaders to order. Fast forward to present day and this house has lost its ability to roar.
One need not wonder why this piece takes central stage, if anyone was present in the last plenary session, then it would be of no amazement that this piece is written. The FLC, the house that served as watchdog to the excesses of the executive council seems to have lost its ability to check the excesses let alone curtail them. Why is this?


On the tardiness of the hallowed chamber


A council that serves as the model for all Afasites should not be found guilty of punctuality problems, or should it? One such habit that is growing to be a normalcy with the house is the issue of lateness. The Legislative Council seems to have forgotten how to be punctual. The past 3 plenary sessions demonstrated this. All sessions started at least 30 minutes late. In fact, the plenary which held on Friday, 1 October, 2021, started 1 hour late. A house that looks to ensure that other arms of the association is checked should not slouch and tardiness is one trait of slouching. In deed, for the sake of its distinctness, a house filled with honourables should always be punctual.


On increasing the unapproved expenditure to #30,000


Hon Olasoji, the Spokesperson of the Legislative Council proposed in his bill that the amount of unapproved expenditure of a new session be increased from the 10,000 naira provided by the constitution to 30,000, because the purchasing price of commodities has gone up compared to the last time the constitution was reviewed. During the first reading of the bill in the last plenary session, one of the basis for rejection of this proposal was because regardless of the amount set, the executive council would still go above what the constitution stipulated. Furthermore, it was stated that this would only give the members of the executive council more money to spend. As ridiculous as it might sound, these were the most common opinion regarding the proposal. This presupposes where the house stands on serving as the arm to check the executive. If the house is scared to do what might be considered logical, (since 10,000 would be small compared to 2014) how then can the executives truly be checked in their excesses? The council looked like a house of grown ups who whine about what other grown ups do that hurt them to their parents without standing up for their own rights. Such paltry excuses for reasons should not even be considered if the FLC were in the fullness of her glory. In a saner world, the house would consider this proposal as highly reasonable and find ways which they might use in ensuring that the executive council does not overspend nor spend this allocated funds for the sake of it. Or still, even if the proposal would be argued against, it would be on grounds other than the ones the members of the hallowed chamber had put forward.


On over expending of the freshers’ welcome budget.


One of the purpose of budget is that all transactions and expenditure is properly document for the sake of preventing wastage of funds. Also, it is so such that records of the amount spent is kept in records for scrutiny in the nearest future. In any government of any sane society, there is an arm or a body tasked with scrutinising this budget and approves it before the expenses written on it are spent. The FLC carries out this task. However, it seemed as though this power is mere formality. The report on the Afas freshers’ welcome programme which held on 17th and 18th of June 2018 demonstrated this presupposition. Many items on the budget list were over expended coupled with items that are not on the budget. For example, originally, the house approved Malt for #1750 but Happy Hour was purchased for #3,400. In fact, in the initial budget presented, #2,200 was submitted for approval for a pack of 5alive but the house instead approved 1,750 for malt. Even the ambiguity of some expenditures cannot be overlooked. For example, money for security (bouncers) appeared twice in the report. The main issue was on items that were not originally on the budget submitted for approval. The refreshment for personnel of Colgate and Munch it, refreshment for judges, production of awards, security, and cleaning. The issue is not with these expenditures but with the fact that these were omitted in the original budget. Was the Vice president not aware that there would be judges for the variety night? Was clueless of cleaning service? Does she not know they would produce awards for the modeling agency, photographer and the make-up enterprise? Indeed, in the original budget, the house canceled out bringing Abefele for hiring two bouncers, however together with two bouncers, Abefele was also brought for the event. Afas press reached out to the vice president on the issue of the fresher’s welcome to understand her side of the story. On the money taken from the ticket price, she explains that the money was taken for the welfarism of the sponsors of the events and for the judges during the variety night. On why some of the items weren’t on the initial budget, she explained that she had thought miscellaneous would be enough for it but it wasn’t and the event had sponsor that must at least be given awards. For example, the house cancelled photography but they needed someone to take pictures of Afasites and so, an Afasite volunteered for free and the only reasonable way to compensate him was to give him an award. On why Abefele was hired, she iterated that there is no event one hosts in the school with Abefele, it was just a courtesy. Abefele cannot work in place of bouncers and bouncers cannot work in place of Abefele. On the changing of item on the budget, she states that only malt was changed because it is not befitting to give malt to the caliber of people in the program and it was taken from miscellaneous.
All these then begs the question whether there is any need, whatsoever, for the house approving budget if the budget would be over expended anyway. Also, does the house still have power to calling erring executive member to book when they go past the approved budget? What are the measures taken for these excesses? And even when there are genuine reasons, what are the measures taken? Because to simply put, going past budget is going past budget. The speaker of the house then raised that the investigative committee be notified of any item purchased to aid investigation. But to the point, that still doesn’t stop the fact of over expending the budget. It should rather be stated that if an item is purchased outside the budget then it should be from the purse of the purchaser provided the miscellaneous has fully been expended. This makes for careful reasoning before the budget is presented and prevents, ultimately, over expending of the budget. Also, the house should do more in its scrutinising of the budget. Perhaps, indeed malt was not befitting of the dignitaries for the day.


On the recommendations of the audit committee


One thing seemed certain from the last plenary session: the house looks too cagey. The audit committee weren’t daring enough in their recommendation for actions to be taken against the irregularities of the freshers’ welcome programme. First was the fact that 41 tickets of the 600 copies produced for the variety night could not be accounted for. How this happened, except God and perhaps the security guards, no one can really tell. It was said that the bouncers were in charge of the ticketing, but ironically, the programme had a committee that organised it. Why one of the committee members was not in charge of the ticketing is beyond anyone. In fact, the day of the variety night, one particular lady could be seen with the bouncers checking the tickets and collecting money for the sales at point of entry. Why then is 41 tickets unaccounted for? All in all, the committee, tamely, it would seem, calmly overlooked the offence of over expending, but based their recommendation off the 41 tickets that cannot be accounted for. Ludicrously, it was one of the recommendations that pardon be granted. Recommendations such as these makes one wonder if truly the house can still do a fine job in curtailing the excesses of the executive council?
There aren’t ifs or buts, it would seem that from the time of the pandemonium of the sudden exodus of 4 principal officers last session, the FLC has become a house that must return to its former glory. A tame house that must be firm in its checks and balancing of the executive, and not a house that is too scare to increase the amount for unapproved expenditure, or one whose budget approval is beginning to mean nothing, and one who must not be too cagey in its recommendations of calling to order the excesses of the other arm of government. A house that reason at the summit of reasoning gathering. The is the house that the FLC must strive to become.

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