Despite repeated assurances, Senate, House of Reps refuse to open own budgets

Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara (Left), President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki (right)
Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara (Left), President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki (right)

Despite repeated assurances by the leadership of the National Assembly that it would ensure transparency in the management of the Assembly, the allocation to the federal legislature in the 2016 budget is again wrapped in secrecy.

In the budget President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the joint sitting of the Senate and House of Representatives December 22, the sum of N115 billion was allocated to the National Assembly without a breakdown.

The expenditure and receipt of its various arms, namely the Senate, House of Representatives, National Assembly Service Commission, Nigerian Institute for legislative Studies, National Budget and Research Office, were not detailed into relevant heads.

According to the subhead entitled “Summary by MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agency),” the National Assembly was listed as 0112 coming directly after the Presidency, which got a total allocation of N39 billion.

For the National Assembly, the budgets says – Total Personnel – N115,000,000,000; Total Overhead – 0; Total Recurrent – N115,000,000,000; Total Capital – 0; and Total Allocation – N115,000,000,000

The scarce information on the allocation the legislature contradicts the commitments by the Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki, that the National Assembly​ would make its financial dealings more open and accessible to the public, after years of secrecy.​

Upon assumption of office on June 9, the Senate President, in his inauguration speech, assured Nigerians that the era of impunity and arrogance in the country was gone.

He said there would be “a change from impunity and elite arrogance to a life of accountability and respect for every citizen, regardless of tribe, gender, religion and political persuasion. We must justify the privilege of representation conferred in us by the people”.​

“As the President of the 8th Senate and chairman of the National Assembly, I shall be guided by the enormity of the responsibilities that this moment imposes on all of us,” he stressed.

In another media interview, Mr. Saraki said, “By the time we come in to the 2016 budget at the end of the year, it will be even clearer because people just see one item line.

“But that is not going to happen now, you will see what goes to the Senate, what goes to the House of Reps, you are going to see what goes to management, what goes to Legislative Institute, we are going to make all these open and clear. That is part of the openness we promised.”

​Also, apparently wear​y of public outcry over federal parliament’s continued profligacy and the lifestyle of its members, Mr. Saraki, while receiving the leadership of the All Progressive Congress Youth Forum in his office as part of the celebration of this year’s International Youth Day in August, said the Senate had nothing to hide.

He said, “I want to assure you, despite all what you read in the papers, be rest assured that we are here for serious business. We are all committed to make a difference and my doors are open. Very soon, from what I am being told from the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, we are trying to move fast about the e-parliament so that everybody here can know what we are doing and they can also contribute to some of the discussions.

“We want to make this place as open as possible. There is nothing here we are hiding. What is our great motivation? Nigerians spoke at the last elections and I don’t think they spoke for things to be the same and we must not let it be the same. We must ensure that it is positively different.”

Nigerians had been pushing for more accountability and transparency in the National Assembly, which is allocated over N100 billion yearly.

From 2011 to 2104, the legislature got N150 billion per year. However, the allocation dropped to N115 billion in 2015 though N120 billion was originally allocated to it.

Since 1999, the legislators, comprising 109 senators and 360 representatives, rebuffed every attempt by critics to know the financial dealings of the legislature.

The statutory salaries and allowances of the lawmakers are approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Allocation Commission.

Nigeria pays about N8.72 billion in salaries and allowances to the 469 lawmakers every year, an amount that is one of the highest in the world.

In June, Mr. Saraki had set up the committee on financial review with a mandate to review the salaries, allowances, and the overhead cost of the Senate with a view to realigning them to reflect the present economic situation in Nigeria.

He said at the time, “There still persists the need to project clarity, accountability and transparency in all legislative matters and legislators’ welfare. The 8th Senate under our watch recognizes the concerns raised by Nigerians about the cost of running office most especially with the economic challenges facing our nation.

“The Senate will be more transparent regarding all public funds spent for the purpose of paying salaries and allowances of legislators and ensure that distinction is sufficiently made between what a legislator actually earns and what is spent to run and implement legislative business and committee activities. The watchword in our financial issues will be fiscal conservatism.

​​“It is therefore on this arm that the committee is mandated to carry out thorough fiscal examination on the Senate finances with the aim of coming up with the best cost-effective regime in the 8th Senate,” he said.

The committee is yet to conclude its assignment six months after.

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  • Amir

    And you say this country has a Nigeria Labour Congress who have lost every sense of good reasoning. Shame on NLC leadership.

  • sammyctu ode

    We Nigerians are tired of these fools at the NA doing whatever they like. How can they call themselves the peoples’ representatives and at thesame time not listening to the people they represent? Instead of our moribund labour unions crying wolfe over petroleum subsidy that they will go on strike if subsidy is removed, their major priority should be to lead Nigerians of all works of life to the NA and let us occupy there and shut down the activities of these deranged legislators until they do our wishes. Millions of Nigerians can’t be suffering while they are enjoying our tax payers funds for free. What does that useless corrupt saraki and his deputy need 12 and 10 exotic cars for? As from January, let all of us converge in Abuja and take over the National Assembly because these fools will not listen to us unless we force them to see reasons. The most annoying thing is that both chambers are always empty whenever they are in session. PMB can’t do it alone, we must all support him to remove all the man made cancer from our society.

  • Damilola

    Anyone surprised by this is definitely new to our system. A system where a pedophile and benefactor of displaced wanderers crystallised into the name Almajiri, a phenomenon well supported by the sociology of that area, promise to wipe this same instrument he shares with the insurgents withing 3months, in 7months the insurgents still swore higher, still there is no tangible move in achieving this. How do you expect to crush BH without getting hold of this fiasco sociology, the source of their recruitment? How do we expect the benefactors of these displaced society, who leverage on the vulnerability of their people to gain political relevance, to willfully abdicate this group?… media statements is all they need to convince their shallow minded minions.

    Journalists shud try do more investigative journalism, still you clap down on Social media as seen evidently in that bugdet. No scared cows…. yet they rode to power on the loots of the quintessential thieves, who stoll remain in the Rock of the Aso, seeing the Seraphic being at will, sharing the gala and the goods. We’ll uphold the rule of law, in reality they’re the law themselves, no law supersedes their conviction. Anyone to occupy my cabinet must decline his asset to be fit… in reality they neva did… asked the president yestd; they know they shud declare their assets, asked again: who is to prompt them on this?, “they know they shud declare their assets.

    Countless of “just for the media” statements we see and read all around. It’s the path the administration has chosen, Saraki and the NASS are no exception.

    • ogechi

      WellDone…Fool

      • J.Kamson

        PASSIONATE APPEAL TO EFCC

        In a normal country I should not make this appeal – passionate or not – because law enforcement
        agencies do not need an appeal to do their job. But in Nigeria we need to appeal to God Almighty.

        Premium Times did the best news-report of the year and published it yesterday captioned:

        •SPECIAL REPORT: Inside the massive money
        laundering in Nigeria’s National Assembly

        I appeal to the EFCC Chairman and to the EFCC Director of Operations to swing into action.
        That excellent newsreport details massive stealing unheard of in any modern parliament today.
        Premium Times went further to list the first, middle and surnames of the rogues who stole money.
        All the National Staff members listed in that report SHOULD BE ARRESTED forthwith and detained.

      • Damilola

        Ogechi You vex? No vex abeg… can’t just help it, I av to speak the truth, can’t pretend or do otherwise. And u can Google some of my facts u find disturbing, pick out my lies and let’s talk about it. Meanwhile, Happy new year already. May our destiny never be limited by this dilly dally shilly-shally shallow ineptitude govt. Amen. Cheers

    • Chuks

      Faniweed. You should take your medication regularly as instructed by the rehabilitation home. Who let the dogs out?

      • Damilola

        I av someti that seems like a best answer to your “comic”, but would av been extremely rude. I don’t want to be identified with such. But in sense, I left the rehab just this morning with my pills. But don’t you wonder how someone from the rehab could think brightly and still hold the capture of events “truly and rationally, than your serene self?”. Then I remember what the Dr said to me: an insane man will always point at his Dr as the lunatic warm, however, one thing sets both aside, “facts and reality” of their content. Now your job is to pick on what I said in that “faniweed” comment and tell us the “truth and rationality” of your tot.

  • ‘Seye Brown

    EDITOR SIR,

    Buhari’s government has nothing to show in 2015. It can’t have anything to show in 2016.

    It’s as simple as that because morning shows the day. The quality of knowledge leading

    Buhari’s government is too low. The only thing Buhari pointed at as CHANGE he claims

    to have achieved is the policy of Treasury Single Account of his predecessor,

    Goodluck Jonathan. That’s complete proof of a bereft government right there.

    • Uzoma John

      Why didn’t Jonathan himself see to the full implementation of the TSA policy? Lack of political will and part and parcel of the thieving cabal. My friend good policy proposal means nothing until fully implemented. Jona talked about TSA for over 2 years of his almost 6 years reign but could not implement it. PMB saw the good in the policy and got it implemented within few months of becoming President, despite all the distractions by PDP and some corrupt ruling class who you receive crumbs from. Can you point to one policy implementation of Jonathan’s govt that was well implemented if not enmeshed in fraud?

  • FreeNigeria

    what do we expect from a prodigal son at the helm of NASS. Saraki na born tiff and e go die tiff.

  • olu_kay

    NLC leadership is corrupt and compromised,this should be the issue on the front burner,instead of fighting against removal of subsidy on behalf of their corrupt sponsors.