Make N/Assembly budget details public – Ndume

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Senator Ali Ndume

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The need to reveal details of the National Assembly budget re-surfaced during budget debate at the Senate Wednesday.

Legislators have been secretive about their budget since 2010 and   resisted public clamour for them to open their books.

However, a ranking senator yesterday urged his colleagues to be transparent about how they spend tax payers’ money.

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Contributing to the debate, the former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume   said the details of the National Assembly budget must be made public.

“We come here to pass the budget without seeing the details. This is government of change and this must change. The details of the budget report should and as required must be considered holistically.

“The budget of the senate is not known to the senators, it should be known this year, this is very important because we cannot be taking blames or hold credit for what we don’t know.

“Mr. President if you look at 2016 budget, yes we have been given the budget performance but what budget 2016 contains in relation to 2017 budget is not available,” he said.

Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, on several occasions last year promised to make the details of the National Assembly budget public, a pledge he has not yet fulfilled.

The National Assembly budget rose steadily from N23.3 billion in 2003 to N104.825 billion in 2008 and then it burgeoned to N154.2 billion in 2010.

From 2010 to 2014, the allocation to the legislature stood at N150 billion until 2015 when it was slashed to N120 billion.

It was again scaled down to N115billion last year and the same amount is retained in this year’s budget.

The legislators became secretive about their expenditure when the then Senate President Senator David Mark made it a single line item in the nation’s budget.

Since then what the legislators do with the huge yearly federal allocation remains a matter of conjecture.

Some members of legislative advocacy groups have argued that since all major construction or maintenance jobs are handled by the FCDA they suggested that the legislators spend a big chunk of the money on themselves.

A report by this newspaper last year revealed that a total of N46billion is shared annually by Senators and members of the House of Representatives as running cost.

The money is for expenditures such as basic salary, vehicle maintenance, entertainment, utility, domestic staff, constituency, purchase of newspapers, recess allowance, wardrobe, personal assistant and housing.

Each of the 109 Senators including the principal officers gets N12million monthly, totalling N1.3 billion.

For their part the 360 members of the House of Representatives including the principal officers get N7million monthly for same purpose totalling N2.5 billion monthly. Annually, the expenditure gulps, about N46 billion.

A document obtained by by a national daily showed that out of the N115 billion approved for the National Assembly, House of Reps got N47.2 billion, Senate got N30.2 billion, while the management of the legislature was allocated N11.6 billion.

The document showed further that N9.7billion was budgeted for legislative aides, N9.5billion for general service, N4.2 billion for the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), N1.9billion for the National Assembly Service Commission, N379million for Service Wide Votes, N138million for House Public Accounts Committee and N115million for the Senate Public Accounts Committee.

Multiple sources at both the Senate and House confirmed to our correspondents that the amount was being paid to the lawmakers.


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