Make details of Senate budget public, Senator tells Saraki, colleagues

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

The controversy over the secrecy with which the National Assembly handles its budget was further brought to the fore on Wednesday with a senator saying he and his colleagues, like most Nigerians, have no knowledge of details of the budget.

Ali Ndume, who until a fortnight ago was the Senate Leader, stated this on the floor of the Senate during the debate on the 2017 budget.

Mr. Ndume, who lamented that the budget of the Senate was not known to majority of senators, said it was important to let the public know details of the budget of the red chamber.

“This is very important because we cannot be taking blames or credits of things we didn’t know of,” he said.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, repeatedly failed to honour pledges to make details of the N115 billion National Assembly budget public.

With N23.347 billion in 2003, the National Assembly’s budget now stands at about N115 billion yearly, representing over 492 per cent rise in 13 years. Until 2016, the budget had often gone as high as N150 billion a year.

Several lawmakers told PREMIUM TIMES the National Assembly leadership, particularly the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, use the budget to influence lawmakers, tactically determining who gets what and when.

“Because most of us benefit from these allowances, it is really difficult to speak publicly against the leadership,” a member of the House of Representatives said.

The National Assembly leadership has repeatedly ignored calls by Nigerians and civil society groups to make details of the budget public.

The Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi, once told PREMIUM TIMES it was not in “public interest” to disclose Senate budget.

“The National Assembly does not have the same budget structure with the Executive and it is not in the public interest to see everything in the budget (of the NASS),” Mr. Abdullahi said.

Apart from calling for transparency in the National Assembly budget, Mr. Ndume (APC-Borno) also called for total overhaul of the 2017 Appropriation Bill to address the needs of Nigerians.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 14 presented the 2017 budget of N7.30 trillion to the National Assembly .

Bukola Saraki
Senate President, Bukola Saraki

Mr. Ndume said that the most important ingredient of any budget was its details.

“However, the 2017 budget lacks details,” he said.

“This is a government of change and for the budget to lack details, this must also change.

“The details of the budget must be considered holistically,” he said.

NORTH EAST, OTHERS

While describing the humanitarian crisis in the North-East as a catastrophe, Mr. Ndume said the N45 billion projected in the budget for the area was inadequate.

“The international community and the United Nations agencies have donated N305 billion for 2017, yet Nigeria is budgeting N45 billion; there is an emergency situation and the government should do more,” he said.

Besides, he urged the Senate to allocate enough money to assist Internally Displaced Persons.

“We should be seen as being serious about the humanitarian crisis in the North-East,” he said.

Similarly, Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) said that the budget should not simply be a collection of numbers but that of aspirations and values of a people.

“Each year it passes through the ritual of passing through the National Assembly and the state of Nigerians as far as their life is concerned experience no change.

ndume_3
Former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume

“On N1.663 trillion for debt servicing, we should explore the goodwill that Nigeria enjoys today from the international community to seek for further debt forgiveness so as to buttress our economy to address other issues which we are faced with.

“The budget for education, will this address the decadence in the sector. Will this end the perennial and persistent ASUU strikes? Will it address the basic challenge of our education sector?

“The defence budget of N140 billion. In a situation whereby we acknowledge the fact that the insurgency has seriously being degraded, we need to see a scale down of the defence budget,” he said.

He said the large sum of money for defence should be used for other issues such as health and education.

On power, Mr. Sani said there no economy can grow when it is run on generators.

“We constantly see promises and pledges, sometimes modest achievements that we have moved from 2,000 megawatts to 3,500megawatts and then going back to 1,500 megawatts.

“These issues need to be taken seriously; power is such a serious economic component that should not easily be jammed up by Housing and Works,” he said.

On his part, Philip Aduda (PDP-FCT) said the N37 billion allocated to the FCT was inadequate.

“We owe FCT contractors billions of Naira and as such we need more funds to settle our debts,” he said.

Mr. Aduda, however, called on the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, to put a tax system in place to generate revenue for the development of the FCT.

dogara
Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara

Also speaking, Babajide Omoworare (APC-Osun) said unemployment in the country was “growing and there was no growth in the economy”.

“These are symptoms and indices of recession. Government must spend a lot more. We must find means of reducing the recurrent and increasing the capital expenditure,” he said.

“The executive must spend more; the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, there is about N50 billion in the budget for the Bank of Agriculture and the Bank of Industries.

“That is not enough there must be more money. The challenge we have in Nigeria is not about providing this money. It is about ensuring that this money gets to those who need the money, the youths the women.

“This is the only way there can be growth in the economy,” Mr. Omoworare said.


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  • lala

    Our senators, we hail

    • Vivarevo2

      @disqus_6kbNRUlqY5:disqus

      Time for street fight against corrupt officials

      Only the honest Nigerians
      bear the whole pains of economic recession today. And so, until
      Nigerians rise and kill known treasury thieves in each neighborhood,
      there’s no hope or comfort for Nigeria. Rise and kill treasury thieves in
      self-defence before they ruin your lives! President Muhamadu Buhari benefited
      from the proceeds of thefts for his 2015 president campaign. That is the reason
      President Buhari is now expectedly ambivalent on the corruption nearby him, and
      including the corruption-tainted Ministers he intently appointed, despite the fact.

      Unless Nigerians resolve to deal with treasury thieves by moving against
      these treasury thieves physically, and with deadly weapons, to finally stop those
      robbing the country and claiming a right to do so, the country will never exit the
      pains and poverty of economic recession hurting the honest Nigerians – because
      recession has no practical meaning to treasury thieves and their criminal business
      proxies who stash away billions of Naira stolen from the treasury by false accounting
      and by false invoices signed to dupe a whole country.

      • lala

        Kill ke? O ga o. Abeg oh. Lol

  • Adele Uhuru

    this is a common sense logical request

    • Dele O. Dina

      @adeleuhuru:disqus & @disqus_6kbNRUlqY5:disqus

      BUKOLA SARAKI is the detritus of the age of high crimes and misdemeanors; in short,
      the age of theft and loot, for otherwise he’d be eager to act of his own volition to set himself apart
      by doing the needful – to disclose public accounts of the legislature in line with global democratic tenets.
      But like a thief who’s always hiding clues and things away from detection Bukola Saraki finds disclosure
      of public accounts a difficult act to follow. Bukola Saraki exemplifies the self-same corruption destroying
      Nigerians who now live in perpetual darkness without electricity supply after 16 billion dollars voted for
      electricity supply under the corrupt regime of Olusegun Obasanjo was virtually stolen away without trace.

      • Adele Uhuru

        You have no objections from me on that – I can account for an experience from a fellow academia whom relishes to tell the tales of Saraki’s corruption and thievery

      • King Mohammed El-Kamal

        What has Bukola saraki got to do with the issue on ground now? If u read the story well u wil notice that Ndume is only fighting for his own selfish interest. OK why is now raising the issue where was he in last 1 and half year he was Senate leader

  • paul irumundomon

    Did it this secret start yesterday, why did he not speak up, as leader if the senate. This is how drowning terrorist react, the senators should watch him.

  • Senator D

    I thought when APC came on board there would be transparency and probity everywhere? APC are worst than their predecessors PDP… All of them nah the same rotten tomatoes inside a leaking basket!

    • Muhammad Lawan

      Why can’t APC be worse than PDP when it is the likes of Saraki that crossed over from PDP to APC! So long as people of doubtful character who see nothing wrong in brazing corruption and have blind ambition are in the helm of affairs in this country, we should say bye bye to good and patriotic leadership in this country!

  • King Mohammed El-Kamal

    Don’t mind Ndume is also a thief but bcos he is no longer in their carcus that was reason why he is working against his colleagues. On the issues of money allocated to insurgency in the North East, Ndume is only fighting for his pocket bcos all that have that been allocated in the past has not yield desire result. People tend to fight for what wil be to their own benefit under the pretence of fighting for masses. Was Ndume not part of the leadership in last 1&1/2 years? So the should stop feeding us with useless story just to create enmity

  • AryLoyds

    Ndume is the new Julian Assange , well in a funny way 🙂