President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki

Omololu Ogunmade with agency report

After years of opacity regarding the finer details of the budgetary allocation to the federal legislature, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said sunday that the breakdown of the National Assembly’s budget would for the first time be made public next week.

This was contained in a statement signed by Mohammed Isa, Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Saraki, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Saraki made the disclosure while speaking with a team of editors of the London-based newspaper, The Economist.

Saraki, who is the Chairman of the National Assembly, said that publication of details of the budget was in line with the anti-corruption stance of the Eighth National Assembly, promising that the legislature would not cover any form of corruption.

He also said that the budget of the Senate, which had never been made public, would be published in line with the anti-corruption stance of the Senate.

“For the first time we promised Nigerians that the Senate will disclose its budget breakdown, the committee will make its report available by next week. We are resolved to break the tradition of one line item,” he said.

The breakdown of the budget of the National Assembly has always been shrouded in secrecy, thereby attracting harsh criticism from sections of the public over the salaries and allowances paid to the legislators.

The federal legislature has also been criticised for expending billions of naira every four years for the purchase of luxury cars for the leadership of the National Assembly and its members.

Saraki added that the Senate would partner with President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the success of the anti-corruption war.

He said that the red chamber had already demonstrated its commitment to anti-corruption through its unravelling of fraud such as the management of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), noting that the investigation the Senate conducted on TSA, saved the country over N7 billion.

Saraki stressed that the Senate would not hinder or water down any allegation of corruption.

On the economy, Saraki said the Senate was doing all within its power to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.

“It is only when the private sector thrives that the issue of unemployment will be addressed and the nation’s GDP will increase.

“Few days ago, we received a report on the laws that need to be amended in order of priority to ease doing business and private sector participation in order to stimulate Nigeria’s economy.

“We will soon commence the implementation of the recommendations in the report, in addition to pushing for the amendment of the Procurement Act to protect our local industries,” he informed The Economist.

He allayed fears that the low prices of oil would have a negative impact on the implementation of the 2016 budget, saying: “What we need to do is to block leakages and show more transparency.

“Without blocking leakages even if oil was sold at more than $100 per barrel, Nigeria will still continue to witness a decline in revenue in-flow,” he said.