Details of N128b NASS budget still unknown to senators
• As Pressure Mounts On Lawan To Release Budget Details
Barely six weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the N10.594tr 2020 national budget into law, some lawmakers have said the details of the N128b National Assembly budget are still unknown to them.
Despite criticisms that greeted the appropriation of N37b for maintenance work in the National Assembly, the apex lawmaking body further increased its operational budget from N125b to N128b for the 2020 fiscal year.
To worsen the matter, the specific details of how the N128b would be spent were not released to the public, contrary to the tradition established by the 8th Senate, which bowed to pressure and released the National Assembly’s 2018 budget to the public early last year.
When reached for comment, Senate spokesman, Godiya Akwashiki, said: “The National Assembly budget is a public document, and since the Senate President has promised to make the budget transparent, he should be in the best position to speak on the issue.”
He directed further questions on the matter to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Muhammed Ataba Sani-Omolori, saying: “The Clerk to the National Assembly is supposed to be in charge of that. Being the accounting officer of the National Assembly, he is in the best position to give the details.
“The disbursement of funds for the capital component of the budget is the duty of the National Assembly bureaucracy. We don’t execute capital projects. As senators, we only collect our salaries and allowances. We don’t award contracts, neither do we determine the contractors that would get the jobs.”
Speaking in a separate interview, the Vice chairman of the Senate committee on public account, Senator Ibrahim Hadejia (Jigawa, APC) said: “I am not aware of the reasons the details of the budget are not given. I cannot give you details about a budget I’m not privy. This is a question you need to forward to the appropriate quarters. You can meet the appropriation committee, because they know what goes into where.”
However, another Senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said any senator who seeks to know details of the National Assembly budget is free to demand for it.He said: “I don’t think it is correct to say senators don’t know the details. The point is that nobody will hide it from us, if we demand for it. We are an arm of government, and we cannot be running a secret account. The details may not be published, but that does not mean it is not available.”
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