Nigeriawill have spent over N1.799 trillion on the National Assembly in 13 years by the end of 2023, with the parliament jacking up its budget for next year by N30 billion, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
From 2011 to 2022, the annual budgets of the National Assembly cumulatively amounted to about N1.630 trillion, while the parliament is billed to spend N169 billion in 2023.
The federal bi-cameral legislature proposed a budget of N169 billion in the 2023 Appropriation Bill presented by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on October 7, indicating that the parliament jacked up its current budget by N30 billion.
The political arm of the National Assembly has the Senate and the House of Representatives with 109 and 360 members, respectively, while the administrative arm has the National Assembly Management headed by the Clerk to the National Assembly, and the National Assembly Service Commission.
The Office of the President of the Senate had in 2018 published some details about the N139.5 billion budget for the year. Out of the N139.5 billion, the sum of N26,483,039,299 was spent on personnel cost, N93,302,013,406 on overhead, N119, 785,052,705 on recurrent expenditure, and N18,569,804,041 on capital expenditure.
A further breakdown showed that the Senate got N35,582,085,699, while the House spent N57,425,137,793.
The National Assembly Office spent N15,389,235,912; the National Assembly Service Commission, N2,736,081,266; and the National Assembly Institute of Legislative Studies, N4,373,813,896.
Others were legislative aides, N10,202,095,928; general services, N12,384,672,079; service-wide vote, N1,145,143,245; and public account committees, N118,970,215 and N142,764,258 for the Senate and House, respectively.
The parliament has had the following budgets since 2011: 2011 to 2014, N150bn; 2015, N115bn; 2016, N125bn; 2017, N125; 2018, N139.5bn; 2019, 125bn; 2020, N128bn; 2021, N134bn; 2022, N139bn; and N169bn proposed for 2023.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, had repeatedly claimed that the National Assembly, which has been widely criticised as expensive to run, was underfunded.
While critics believe federal lawmakers are overpaid, the House’s spokesman had argued that their pay was lower when compared to the volume and critical nature of their work.
“The truth remains that if the cost of governance must be reduced, it is on the executive. I am not mincing words. Look at the nominal rolls; you will see strange things happening there. So, if we really want to clean our house, it starts with the executive. I want to challenge Nigerians to start looking at the executive and stop looking in the wrong direction,” Kalu had on November 12, 2020, said.
Again, on March 11, 2021, he said the National Assembly was underfunded to function efficiently and effectively as a national parliament. He also decried that the paucity of funds had made the working environment not conducive for lawmakers while they had not been able to carry out their legislative activities to the best of their ability.
Meanwhile, ministries of the Federal Government plan to spend over N2bn on sewerage charges, cleaning and fumigation, as well as refreshments and entertainment in 2023, with another N631m on cleaning and fumigation in the coming year.
In the 2023 Appropriation Bill laid before a joint session of the National Assembly by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on October 7, the ministries proposed various sums totalling N1,011,508,548 for sewerage. This figure does not include estimates proposed by departments, agencies and corporations supervised by the ministries and statutory bodies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the highest allocation to sewerage charges with N916,721,440, followed by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning with N15,000,000; Ministry of Health, N17,204,836; Ministry of Mines and Steel, N11,500,000; Ministry of Works and Housing, N10,367,742; Ministry of Environment, N5,000,000; Ministry of Defence, N4,750,000; Ministry of Justice, N4,730,745; Ministry of Interior N4,540,931; Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, N4,142,657; and Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, N3,710,600.
The same ministries budgeted a total of N631,244,181 for cleaning and fumigation services.
Again, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the biggest budget in this category with N92,637,090, followed by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment with N50,766,985; Ministry of Water Resources, N50,000,000; Ministry of Health, N48,797,602; Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N44,000,000; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N38,595,715; Ministry of Education, N36,400,000; Ministry of Defence, N32,937,058; Ministry of Environment, N28,679,850; and Ministry of Niger Delta, N25,941,536.
Meanwhile, the ministries are to spend a total of N352,153,213 on refreshments and entertainment in the coming year.
Topping the list of big spenders in this category is, again, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with N114,178,533, followed by the Ministry of Information and Culture, N27,995,749; Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, N26,156,222; Ministry of Education, N25,800,000; Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N24,550,000; Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, N22,466,558; Ministry of Police Affairs, N22,423,550; Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity, N18,377,030; and Ministry of Defence, N13,440,000.