Despite public outcry that the National Assembly’s budget is too much and too opaque, an official has asked that it be increased.
The Executive Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), Ahmed Amshi, on Tuesday, called on the federal government to increase the National Assembly’s annual budget.
He said the budgetary allocation of N125 billion is not enough to fund the institution.
Mr Amshi made the call when he received a delegation of the Benue State House of Assembly Commission (BSHAC) led by the chairman, Sylvester Atachin.
“The National Assembly’s budget is not enough and we seek an increase to enable us achieve more and ensure stability in the legislative arm of government,” he said.
Mr Amshi’s call comes amidst outrage expressed by individuals and civic groups over the huge amount allocated to the legislative arm annually as well as calls for transparency in the institution’s budget.
After an #OpenNASS campaign in 2015, the eighth assembly published a breakdown of the N125 billion budget in 2017 but soon went back to secrecy. Despite making promises to ensure openness of its budget to the public, the ninth assembly has failed to do so.
In the 2020 budget, President Muhammadu Buhari earmarked N125 billion for the National Assembly which is expected to cater for legislative aides, the National Assembly, National Assembly Commission, National Assembly Legislative Institute as well as the service-wide vote of the legislature.
This is however, different from the N37 billion budgeted for the renovation of the National Assembly complex.
In his speech Tuesday, Mr Amshi did not speak on the need to make the budget of the National Assembly public.
However, while addressing his guests, Mr Amshi urged State Houses of Assembly Commissions to, as a matter of necessity, separate themselves from the control of the executive in the states. He said a situation where the executive hires and fire aides to legislators is not acceptable as it erodes the principle of separation of powers.
The parliament everywhere in the world, he said, is independent and not under the control of the Executive, even in recruitment and management of its staff and that the same should apply in the state assemblies.