Cut ‘self-serving N344.85bn NASS Budget,’ Group tells Akpabio, Abbas

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Worried by the current economic realities in the country, a group has called on the National Assembly leadership to cut down the budget for lawmakers. Last December, the National Assembly passed the 2024 Appropriation Bill, increasing the sum to ₦28.7 trillion from the initial ₦27.5 trillion presented by President Bola Tinubu in late November.

Making the call in a letter dated January 13, by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, specifically asked the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas to “promptly reduce the National Assembly budget of N344.85 billion, to reflect the current economic realities in the country, and cut the cost of governance.”

The group also wants them to “request President Bola Tinubu to present a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the reduced National Assembly budget for the approval of the National Assembly.” It wants the National Assembly leadership to “promptly publish details of the National Assembly budget of N344.85bn, including the proposed spending details of the N3 billion for the Senate Car Park and N3 billion budgeted for the House of Representatives Car Park.”

Oluwadare warned that the arbitrary increase by the lawmakers of their own budgetary allocation, if not cut, would have significant fiscal consequences and exacerbate the country’s debt crisis. “The unilateral and self-serving increase by the lawmakers of their own allocation also offends the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances and the notion of the rule of law,” the letter read. “The increase in the National Assembly budget has raised serious questions in the minds of the Nigerian people about how the lawmakers are spending their commonwealth.

“The National Assembly ought to be more responsible to the public interest and more responsive to it. The National Assembly has a constitutional responsibility to combat waste and abuse in its own spending if it is to effectively exercise its oversight functions and hold the government to account. “Transparency and accountability in public administration is an essential element of democracy. Transparency in the spending of the National Assembly budget would give the public a tool to hold the lawmakers accountable. It would also protect Nigerians from any potential abuses of governmental or legislative power that may exist.”

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