The federal government has earmarked N134 billion for the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
This is contained in the 2022 budget of N16.3 billion presented to the National Assembly President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday.
Although details of the 2022 Appropriation bill were not immediately made public, a copy of the budget later released by the Ministry of Finance revealed the breakdown of the budget for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The total amount budgeted for the legislature for the coming year is the highest ever.
For 2021, the president increased the National Assembly’s budget from N125 billion in previous years, to N128 billion for 2021. And during the approval, the lawmakers upped the budget by N6 billion, bringing their total budget for 2021 to N134 billion.
With the president proposing N134 billion for the lawmakers for the coming year, there are concerns that the amount will grow higher.
Another concern, however, is the fact that details of the N134 billion budgetary allocation for the National Assembly were not made public.
This is despite calls made by individuals and civic groups to the lawmakers for transparency in their annual budget.
The allocation is also in disregard of the nation’s dwindling economy which informed calls by some concerned Nigerians for cut in the cost of governance.
Many Nigerians have berated both past and present assemblies for always shrouding their budgetary allocations in secrecy. Others have also said the budgets for the legislature increase annually with zero accountability.
The Bukola Saraki-led eight assembly only published a breakdown of its budget in 2017 after an #OpenNASS campaign was done across social media platforms to mount pressure on the lawmakers.
Similarly, the current assembly only released details of its budget in 2021. It was an attempt at transparency, Kano senator, Barau Jibril, had told journalists.
Of the N134 billion budgeted for 2021, the House of Representatives got the biggest share of about N52 billion while the Senate will get N33.2 billion.
A total of N9.6 billion was budgeted for legislative aides, N15.9 billion for National Assembly Management while N5.7 billion was given to the National Assembly Service Commission.
The sum of N275.2 million was budgeted for the Office of retired clerks and permanent secretaries while N389.3 million was appropriated for service-wide vote of the legislature. And another N9.1 billion was appropriated for “general service.”
Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, could not give any reason when asked by journalists on Tuesday why details of the National Assembly’s 2022 budget were not made public.
He merely said such inquiries should be directed to the clerk of the National Assembly.
Unlike the MDAs before the National Assembly, the legislature does not defend its budget before any government body.