The National Assembly has said for Nigeria to reduce the cost of governance, more attention should be paid to the executive arm of the Federal Government which takes the significant majority of the nation’s budget annually.
The House of Representatives specifically stated that cuts should be applied to the executive and not the legislature that gets less than one per cent of the allocations in the national budget.
A spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, stated this in Abuja on Thursday, while answering questions from journalists during his weekly media briefing.
The National Assembly had a budget of N139.5bn in 2018, N125bn in 2019 and is currently spending N128bn for 2020, while N125bn had been proposed for it in the N13.08tn 2021 Appropriation Bill currently before the parliament.
Kalu was asked about the public perception of the cost of running the current bi-cameral National Assembly and the remuneration of its members.
Responding, he said, “Since you have been following up with this budget defence, have you taken time to look at the amount that is going to the nominal rolls? Have you taken time to do an analysis of what is being paid to sustain the executive arm? So, to your question, if the cost of governance is going to be reduced, it should not be from the legislative arm because it occupies 0.8 per cent of the entire budget. And the question has always been: why is it that Nigerians are leaving 99.02 per cent?
“Nigerians have been made to believe that the worth of 0.8 per cent of the national budget, that goes to one arm of government, less than 1 per cent, 0.8 per cent, is more than 99.02 per cent. This is what a group of people somewhere has succeeded in making Nigerians believe; that the cost of governance is not on any other arm of government but the National Assembly. But the question is: is that logical? Is it logical that an arm of government is 0.8 per cent and another arm is on almost 95 per cent, and no attention is given to that arm of government? Nobody is questioning it.
“The truth remains that if the cost of governance must be reduced, it is on the executive. I am not mincing words. Look at the nominal rolls, you will see strange things happening there. So, if we really want to clean our house, it starts with the executive. I want to challenge Nigerians to start looking at the executive and stop looking in the wrong direction.”
The House’ spokesman argued that the parliament was even underfunded, saying the National Assembly is struggling to meet its obligations.
When asked if the 9th National Assembly would adopt the ‘Open NASS’ policy of the last Assembly by publishing a breakdown of its N125bn budget, Kalu urged journalists and Nigerians to invoke the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the information from the management, which is the bureaucratic arm of the parliament.