BudgIT and EiENigeria, civic organisations, say Nigerians want the budget of the national assembly reduced by N73 billion from N125bn to N52bn per annum.
In the 2017 national budget passed a few weeks ago, the legislature earmarked N125bn for itself.
Nigerians have criticised the action of the national assembly, particularly regarding monetary allocation to some items of little importance.
On May 20, the civic organisations held a forum tagged ‘OpenNASS Datathon’ to get the views of citizens on ways of making the national assembly budget prudent.
The participants suggested that the national assembly budget be pruned from its current amount to N5.2bn.
“In response to the publication of the national assembly budget, BudgIT and EiENigeria, invited citizens to the ‘#OpenNASS Datathon’ on May 20, 2017 with the objective of developing a lean and effective budget for the national assembly as a standard for Nigeria to reduce the cost of governance,” a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by Damisola Akolade-Yilu and Adeolu Adekola, representatives of the organisations, read.
“After rigorous review, the citizens proposed the reduction of the 2017 national assembly budget from the approved N125,000,000,000 to N52,490,951,173. In reaching the final sum in the proposed budget, participants took into account all affiliated institutions, overhead costs, maintenance costs, personnel, research costs and all the line items contained in the 2017 national assembly budget.
“In preparing the leaner and more effective budget, the participants noticed the repeated allocations made to each of the senate, house of representatives, National Institute of Legislative Studies, National Assembly Service Commission and the Public Accounts Committee (senate and house of representatives) for purchase of stationery and computer consumables; training, travel, purchase of motor vehicle, maintenance of the national assembly buildings and other items.
“Citizens argued that several overhead items which accounted for 50 percent of the national assembly budget can be centralised in the general services unit for efficiency. The final budget is not without context as citizens observed that N5.2bn was budgeted for University of Abuja and the National Hospital is due to receive a far lower sum at N7.6bn in 2017.”
The organisations asked that the reduction of the national assembly spending continue “as acquisition of certain items during the current fiscal year will no longer needed to be added in future budgets”.
“These rationales are informed by publicly available knowledge of the activities of the national assembly, its supporting commissions and current prices of proposed items in the free market.
“In addition, certain items were stripped from the budget for various reasons including duplication of line items and repurchase of already existing items such as cars and furniture which, from publicly available information, were included in the 2016 national assembly budget,” the statement read.
“Beyond revising of the national assembly budget, BudgIT and EiENigeria will be sending copies of the proposed budget to national assembly management and also acting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for consideration as regards the 2017 budget.
“We use this medium to state that we shall also continue to request for an audit of the 1.5 trillion naira sum received by the national assembly between 2005 and 2014, the replacement of voice voting with an electronic voting system and also a public attendance register of national assembly members on a functional website.”