The Nigerian National Assembly needs to disclose the provisions of its budget allocation

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari requested for and corrected the 2016 Nigerian Budget before sending it back to the Senate for further deliberation. However, the most peculiar provision on the budget, which can be downloaded from the website of the Budget Office of the Federation, is the allocation for the Nigerian National Assembly. Unlike other government parastatals and ministries, the National Assembly Budget had no breakdown for expenditure, just a figure for total allocation.

National Assembly Budget Allocation
National Assembly Budget Allocation     Credit: Budget Office of the Federation

At first glance, the appropriation bill seems incomplete and to many, may suggest a part of Nigeria’s Budget is being deliberately kept a secret.

President Muhmmadu Buhari presented the budget to the National Assembly on the 22nd of December last year. Days later, during Buhari’s first Presidential media chat, he was asked why the Nigerian Senate had a budget allocation of 4.7 million Naira for cars and he promised to look into it. Last week, his recall of the Nigerian Budget was, according to analysts, an attempt to meet the realities presented by the falling oil prices. He was therefore expected to review other things on this topic with his team. However, the removal of the breakdown of the budget allocation for the National Assembly has brought up questions concerning transparency.

Removing the breakdown of the allocation for the Nigerian Senate has further increased people’s fears that the National Assembly isn’t really looking out for the well-being of the nation, but for the well-being of fellow senators.

The Senate has started sitting on the appropriation of the Nigerian Budget. However, do Nigerians trust them to deliberate on their own allocation and make changes? Whenever Nigerians have made arguments for why the Senate should not have allocations that seem insensible, the body, in turn, has come up with reasons to justify why they need those allocations. An example of this argument is the letter written to the Senate by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who was seemingly concerned and questioned the wisdom of the amount of money allocated to the National Assembly. It, however, seems like the National Assembly, through the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, has replied him. He mentioned the fact that they stopped Obasanjo’s third term bid, an act which according to him, is the greatest contribution of the National Assembly to Nigeria’s democracy. But considering the recent play of events, it has become rather difficult to understand what their greatest contribution to Nigeria’s democracy really is.

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