The Senate has defended the N150 billion annual budget of the National Assembly, saying the amount was not out of place for the country’s legislative body.
It explained that the said amount was for all staff of the National Assembly, the Legislative Institute, National Assembly Service Commission as well as capital projects, contrary to public insinuation that the amount was only for the national legislators.
The legislators made the explanation following public outcry that the ‘jumbo pay’ to the legislature alone was affecting the resources of the country.
Meantime, the National Assembly has unveiled the logo for the 1st African Legislative Summit, 2013 which is expected to bring together participants from many countries around the world, particularly Africa including officials at the executive branch of government within the continent.
The National Assembly through the National Institute for Legislative Studies, NILS, would be hosting the Summit from November 10-13, 2013.
The summit is expected to provide an avenue for legislators and stakeholders across the continent to deliberate on current issues and developments relating to the effective functioning of African parliaments, national economies and democratic governance.
President of the Summit and Nigeria Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba at the ceremony of the unveiling of the logo exonerated the National Assembly from alleged national waste.
Ndoma-Egba while answering questions from journalists that the nation’s federal legislature had become expensive, said NASS annual budget of N150 billion cannot be held responsible for the wastage.
According to him, the N150 billion, which represents three per cent of the annual national budget, was infinitesimal to the remaining 97 per cent of the total budget of the country.
He said, contrary to the general impression, the N150bn budget was not meant for the salary and allowances of the legislators alone but included that of other institutions within the National Assembly.
The institutions, he disclosed, included the staff of the National Assembly Service Commission, the staff and management of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) and legislative aides of the lawmakers as well as that of the medical staff attached to the National Assembly.
Senate President David Mark who unveiled the logo corroborated the Senate Leader as he said under-staffing was one of the problems hampering effective and efficient legislative business in the National Assembly.
In his speech at the event, he said emerging legislatures were under significant stresses which were becoming hindrances to efforts to exercise greater influence over government policies and hampering an effective performance of their oversight responsibilities.
He said these included “contextual issues such as underdevelopment, executive interference in some cases and also staff and resources deficit as managers and staff of parliaments struggle to meet the growing demands placed on them.”
The National Assembly’s N150bn represents three percent of the nation’s annual budget of N4.8 trillion. [Vanguard]