Despite public outcry, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Ben Kalu, said the N134 billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget is inadequate.
He called for an increase in the allocation to the National Assembly “for it to fulfill its mandate”.
He stated this while contributing to the debate on the budget on the floor of the House. He reiterated the position while briefing journalists after the debate.
Mr Kalu had in February described the Nigerian parliament as the poorest in the world. The following month, he alleged that the National Assembly was broke, and called for an upward review of its allocation.
This call is coming despite the N6 trillion deficit of the 2022 budget for which the Buhari administration has planned to fund through local and international borrowing that will further increase the debt profile of the country.
Also, the National Assembly has ignored repeated calls to give details of its annual budgetary allocations.
During the debate on the general principles of the Appropriation Bill on Thursday, Mr Kalu lamented that the National Assembly did not benefit from the N280 billion increment in the statutory transfers.
He said the N134 billion allocated to the federal legislature represents about 0.82 per cent of the entire N16.39 trillion budget. He stated that the executive did not consider the exchange rate and purchasing power of the Naira.
He alleged that members of the House are too scared to speak on the matter.
“If you do a proper analysis of statutory transfers for 2022, you will be seeing N768.28 billion and this is an increase of about 58.7 per cent from the last one which was about N484.49 billion, which means that what was added to it was N283.79 billion.
“Now, this increase, one would have expected that it would impact positively on the budget of the National Assembly. It is common reasoning. Over the years, you have increased the budget from one level to the other and the percentage of ‘oversighting’ arm of government keeps dropping.
“Many people would ask, ‘are you saying that the money is not enough?’ That is the truth. If you look at the committees and their responsibilities – the work they need to do, they need money to do it and the purchasing power of the money has gone low.
“It is affecting them, especially on oversight functions. The amount of money needed to go on oversight (visits) is no longer sufficient for the job to be done. I stood up (on the floor) to call on the National Assembly to review this N134 billion because there is no a need for trying to sound acceptable to Nigerians and we are unable to do the job that you have asked us to do.”
Withholding details of budget
The budget of the National Assembly is part of the statutory transfer.
However, unlike other ministries, departments and agencies, the breakdown of the budget of the National Assembly is not contained in the budget. It is just an approved lump sum amount.
The president increased the National Assembly’s budget from N125 billion in previous years to N128 billion for 2021.
During the approval, the lawmakers upped the budget by N6 billion, bringing their total budget for 2021 to N134 billion.
There are speculations that the legislature will again increased its allocation.
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