BudgIT and Enough is Enough – two organisations that mounted pressure on the national assembly to release its budget details – say they will now work to ensure that lawmakers reduce their allowances and salaries.
The national assembly released a breakdown of its budget last Thursday, ending the eight-year non-disclosure of the legislature budget.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the civic organisations said the next phase of their advocacy would be working with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to reduce the salaries and allowances of federal legislators.
They also commended the national assembly for ending the secrecy in its budget process.
“BudgIT and EiE Nigeria wish to commend the leadership of the national assembly for releasing the breakdown of their 2017 budget,” the statement read.
“The #OpenNASS campaign, a four-year extensive advocacy campaign finally hits a milestone on its key demand which is to make public the budget of the people’s representatives and other institutions covered in the national assembly budget. This budget was last made available to the public in 2009.
“Since 2010, the national assembly has spent almost $3.3 billion without public accountability, and in 2013, EiE, BudgIT & other stakeholders decided it was time for openness in the legislative arm.
“The OpenNASS campaign commenced under the leadership of Senator David Mark in the 7th assembly but failed to yield results during his tenure. After protests, FOI requests, petitions, countless engagements online & offline and several promises, the legislative arm of the government has finally released a detailed breakdown of its 2017 budget to the public.
“We commend the chairman of the national assembly and Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who promised to open the budget details of the national assembly and delivered. We believe that after the exit of the current national assembly from public service; this will count as a worthy legacy that generations ahead will guard jealously.”
The organisations acknowledged the increment in the budget of the national assembly from the proposed N115 billion to N125 billion, saying they would analyse “the details of the budget comprehensively and release our findings shortly”.
“Our request for the details of the national assembly budget has always been about improving public sector efficiency and the image of the national assembly as the highest organ of accountability. We will continue to advocate for transparency in all government establishments to craft a more democratic society that protects the interest of its people and values citizen engagement,” they said.
“Today, we celebrate Nigerians who added their voice to this campaign, in their capacity as active citizens. You have shown that persistence and collaboration are our best weapons to take back control of our country from secrecy and opacity when we all occupy our ‘Office of the Citizen’.
The organisations also said they would work to ensure that funds earmarked in the budget were used judiciously.
“Having achieved the first goal of the OpenNASS campaign, which is to make the national assembly budget open and accessible to the public, we will ensure funds are utilised judiciously,” they said.
“BudgIT and EiE Nigeria will keep pushing to attain the four others goals of the campaign – replace voice voting with electronic voting so citizens can follow the voting of their representatives; maintain a functional website and make public the attendance records at plenary; work with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Committee (RMAFC) to review and reduce the salaries & allowances of legislators; provide an audit of the N1.15 trillion ($5.75 billion) the national assembly received between 2005 – 2014.”