Saraki Unmasks N’Assembly’s N139.5bn Budget for 2018

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Bukola Saraki
  • ICPC boss accuses legislators of compromising

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday made public details of the 2018 budget of the National Assembly saying a total of N139.5 billion was budgeted for the legislative body in the fiscal year.

Saraki, who took to his twitter handle @SP Nigeria, said the release of the legislative body’s budget to the public domain was in accordance “with the commitment of the leadership of the eighth National Assembly to accountability and openness #OpenNASS”.

He gave a breakdown of the budget to include N57.42 billion for House of Representatives; N35.58 billion for Senate; National Assembly office got N15.38 billion and N10.20 billion was voted for legislative aides.

Others were N1.14 billion for service wide vote; N2.73 billion for National Assembly Commission and N4.37 billion for National Assembly Legislative Institute.

Under the personnel component of the budget, Senate had N1.8 billion; House of Representatives N4.9 billion; National Assembly Service Commission N1.17 billion and Legislative Aides N9.5 billion.

For overhead costs, while the Senate got N28.7 billion, the House of Representatives had N47.7 billion while N534 million was appropriated for the National Assembly Service Commission.

Under capital votes, Senate received N4.7 billion, House of Representatives N4.9 billion, while total capital for National Assembly Service Commission stood at N309 million.

Other details of the budget include service wide votes N1.145 billion, General Service (overhead) N8.9 billion, Public Accounts Committee (Senate) N118 million , Public Accounts Committee (House of Representatives) N142 million.

Saraki had earlier in a letter dated March 26th, 2019, directed the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, to put in the public domain, details of the budget of the National Assembly.

The letter entitled: “NASS Budget Details” and signed by the Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, reads: “The President of the Senate has asked me to request you to please ensure that the NASS Budget Details with all the line items are ready for passage along with the National Budget when Senate resumes next week.”

Nigeria’s budget watchdog, BudgetIT, had of recent criticised the leadership of the National Assembly for failing to make public the annual budget of the legislative body for necessary public criticism.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, yesterday accused members of the National Assembly of compromising their major constitutional functions of oversight and investigation.

The ICPC boss said as a result of the comprise, “which comes in form of commercialisation of the legislators activities,” they lack the will to carry out their constitutional roles.

Owasanoye spoke while delivering a paper titled ‘The Role of the Legislature in the War Against Corruption and Graft’ at the orientation course for the second batch of elected members of the 9th Assembly.

According to him, “Oversight function has been commercialised, which is why the mechanism hasn’t been effective.

“The legislature has powers of investigation: this was very well utilised in the past. But many other times, the power is commercialised. You find out that the investigators become compromised in the process. There’s lacuna on what the legislature should do with the findings.”

He further said: “We should avoid a situation where because people are being investigated, they come to say they want to change the laws to forestall that. I want to urge the lawmakers not to support that.”

The ICPC boss also challenged the lawmakers to make the details of their budget public.

He said: “NASS Budget rose from N6.9bn in 1999 to N139bn in 2018.There’s no country in the world where the legislature budget is up to one percent. But the question is there’s no breakdown for the amount. It is opaque and disproportionate. “If you make the details, it may even lead to the need for more funds. Why would the legislature demand the details of agencies’ budgets without making its own open?”