Despite repeated assurances by the leadership of the National Assembly that it would ensure transparency in the management of the Assembly, the details of the 2016 budget of the federal legislature in the 2016 National budget is yet to be made public to Nigerians.
In the budget President Muhammadu Buhari assented to for both the Senate and House of Representatives on May 6th 2016, the sum of N115 billion was allocated to the National Assembly without a breakdown.
One of the areas Nigerians have been trying to engage the National Assembly to ensure openness and transparency is the details of their bogus budget. This is because since the commencement of the current democratic dispensation, the budget of the National Assembly has consistently been shrouded in secrecy.
At best, the only thing Nigerians get to hear is the amount allocated to the National Assembly; nothing is revealed about the budget breakdown. This is where the concerns stem, to the extent that the payment of the salaries and allowances of the lawmakers are drawn from the first line charge or the consolidated revenue fund of the federation.
Though, the National Assembly budget covers the salaries and allowances of the entire bureaucracy that make up the parliament, including the National Assembly Service Commission, the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), budget office of the National Assembly as well as the legislative aides and ironically some spurious allocations to the lawmakers.
Like the case of the executive and the judiciary, Nigerians would want to know how the allocation to the National Assembly is shared among the various competing sectors and departments of the National Assembly.
Nigerians are interested in knowing for instance how much was allocated for the maintenance of the assembly grasses and flowers, how much was allocated for the purchase of cars for the lawmakers and the bureaucrats, how much was allocated for travels and trainings, how much was allocated for the purchase of computers, how much was allocated for repainting of the buildings, how much was allocated for maintaining security at the complex and so on and so on.
This is not asking for too much. After all, such details as the cost of providing food and entertainment for the Presidential Villa were made public by the lawmakers themselves during the last budget defense.
The point we are making here while Nigerians wait on is that the National Assembly, like the executive and the judiciary must come clean on its budget in line with the “change” mantra of the present administration and the pledge of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
If the details of National Assembly budget cannot be published during this All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of “change” and anti-corruption, then when would it? Would Nigerians ever know what the National Assembly does with the N115bn allocated to it in the 2016 national budget?