‘N125b budget for NASS inadequate’
A member of the House of Representatives, Nicholas Ossai (Delta-PDP), has said that the N125 billion appropriated to the National Assembly is not adequate to carry out its functions effectively and efficiently.
Ossai made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, insisting that the legislators need more funds to discharge their duties.
NAN reports that the National Assembly on Thursday published its 2017 budget of N125 billion, which was higher than the N115 billion approved in 2016.
Ossai, however, said that the additional N10 billion inserted in the budget would strengthen oversight functions by members of the National Assembly.
“This is necessary so that Nigerians will have the impact and value creation of what has been budgeted.
“Nigerians are not looking at that, we are looking at the National Assembly as 360 members of House of Representatives and 109 Senators; calculate it with the money that has been budgeted without looking at other aspects.
“We are not looking at other agencies under the National Assembly like the Public Complaints Commission, National Institute for Legislative Studies, the National Assembly Service Commission and supporting staff.
“The committees are carrying out national functions in line with Section 88 of the Constitution to expose corruption.
“That committees not only expose corruption, but block leakages; definitely, we need a lot of money to address these issues.
“To the best of my knowledge, that money is not enough to address the issues of carrying out the national functions of the national assembly,” Ossai claimed.
Meanwhile, a legislative aide told NAN on ground of anonymity that they were being owed Duty Travel Allowance (DTA) amounting to N1.3 billion.
“We have been owed since 2015 and the management informed us that the allowance was not captured in the 2016 budget.
“With this development, we are aware of what is appropriated for legislative aides in the 2017 budget, we are now sure the money is there and there will be no room for excuses anymore.
“The DTA for an individual is N75, 000 and about 3, 000 aides are being owed,” the aide said.
A breakdown of the 2017 estimates shows that N23.7 billion would go to personnel cost, N85.8 billion for overhead and N14. 9 billion to finance capital projects.
The National Assembly Management has N14.9 billion with the Senate taking N31.3 billion and the House of Representatives N49 billion, while the National Assembly Service Commission gets N2.4 billion.
The budget provides N9.6 billion for legislative aides, while the Senate Public Accounts Committee takes N118.9 million and that of Reps N142.7 million.
N12.5 billion has been earmarked for general services, N4.3 billion for the National Assembly Legislative Institute and N391.3 million was earmarked for service wide vote.