N’Assembly Bows to Pressure, Begins Move to Make Earnings Public

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By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The persistent agitation against the secrecy of the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly has in recent times been of great concern to both the leadership and management of the lawmaking institution as they have recently decided to make their earnings public.

THISDAY learnt at the weekend that in line with the seeming principles of accountability and transparency of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the management of the National Assembly has come up with a proposal meant to instill some disciplinary measures into the fiscal affairs of the National Assembly.

THISDAY was reliably informed that these disciplinary measures being conceived by the leadership of the National Assembly would result in transparent spending of the National Assembly’s financial allocations.

According to a source, when the plan is finally perfected, the earnings of both the legislators and civil servants would no longer be secret but would be made open to the public.

The source further said it was not only members of the public who had been protesting the secrecy of the earnings of the federal lawmakers particularly their allowances but also few lawmakers who have equally been at the vanguard for calls for transparency in their earnings.

“Against the backdrop of persistent outcry by the public and some legislators to disclose their wages, salaries and allowances, efforts in this regard appear to be gaining acceptance by the leadership of the National Assembly.

“Realising the importance and need in line with the current administration’s drive and focus of President Buhari, the management of the National Assembly is proposing certain fiscal and monetary disciplinary measures to bring about the prudent and transparent approach to the expenditure of legislators and the bureaucrats,” the source said.

According to him, the protracted agitation for financial and budgetary transparency in the National Assembly has been a nightmare to the leadership and hence, the need to address the situation once and for all.

Furthermore, the source said the measures being put in place would address the handling of financial autonomy of the National Assembly vis-a-vis the transparency of money drawn from the first-line charge by members.

In addressing this, THISDAY learnt that the National Assembly had planned to develop what it called “procurement manual” by amending the current Procurement Act.

This amendment, it was further learnt, would introduce a new clause into the Procurement Act which would not only give the federal legislature the full fledged opportunity to develop their own template for the disbursement of monies drawn from the fine-Iine-charge but also extend the same measure to the judiciary.

The new procurement manual being conceived by the National Assembly, THISDAY gathered, would be a marked departure from the existing “charts of account” earlier developed by the executive. The chart of account, it was learnt, would not be suitable for the fiscal management being conceived by the National Assembly.

In addition, the National Assembly, in its commitment to the new plan, will transmit the changes in its financial management to both the accountant-general of the federation and auditor-general of the federation to serve as a guide to them in the implementation of the new fiscal arrangement.

“To address the vexed issues of financial and budgetary transparency, the National Assembly management is coming up with ways to streamline the vexed issues of first-line charge, that is, the financial autonomy of the National Assembly and the running cost for legislators’ constituencies. For instance, they observed that the National Assembly is still using the charts of account developed by the executive. These charts of account did not take into account the peculiarities of the National Assembly.

“The management is therefore proposing an accounting manual that reflects the National Assembly’s peculiarities. In addition, the National Assembly also plans to introduce a clause to be included into the Procurement Act currently being amended. This will henceforth allows the National Assembly and the judiciary, being separate arms of government that are on first-line-charge, to develop and operate their own procurement manual.

“In the long run, in line with transparency, the National Assembly political leadership and management plans to transmit these financial changes to both the accountant-general of the federation and the auditor-general of the federation for their guidance and implementation,” the source added.

rable top Nigerian companies that have already signed on to the initiative. For Nigeria, what I will like to do is to create a specific. I will call it the US-Nigeria CEO Dialogue, which would be a specific programme for Nigeria. That would be by first quarter of next year,” she said.

Ndiaye added: The objective is to increase bilateral trade between the US and Africa. The other objective is to make sure that American companies are being understood and they take advantage of the emerging Africa. Wherever you go, they talk about the emerging Nigeria, and emerging Africa. So, we want to be part of this emerging trend. But most importantly, we want African companies and business leaders to sit down at the same table with American companies and tell them (the U.S. firms), how to do business with Africa and how they can both partner to do business.

“ It is either we help them do business in Africa or as partners in America. We have realised that Africa is an untapped market. Africa is not just one country. It is made up of 54 countries. But a lot of people outside the continent think Africa is one country. We know that Nigeria is the biggest. But this initiative is a win-win situation. It comes with favourable investment climate and It comes with a know-how of the market.

“We give access to markets to our members. We have more than three million companies as our members which makes us the largest business federation in the world. We don’t give grants to anybody because we are not a bank. We are a policy shop. But we give access to where the resources can be because we advise you and open the door for businesses.  And if your product is bankable, we would be able to take you to the right partner,” Ndiaye explained.