Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, on Friday dared members of the National Assembly to disclose their budgetary allocation, salaries and allowances to Nigerians. This, the governor argued, was the least they could do to bring about transparency and address the secrecy and negative image their earnings had generated over the years.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of National Assembly Management Retreat held in Kaduna on Friday, el-Rufai, alleged that the National Assembly, especially the Senate, had specifically become a cog in the wheel of progress in the fight against corruption in the country.
He said, “It is important that the National Assembly do something about its image. No transparency in your (NASS) budget; nobody knows your budget or how much you get paid. Publications are made about your salaries and allowances that I don’t believe are true but cannot be defended because there is no transparency about your budget, personnel cost and so on and so forth. I think you can do something about that to clear all the rumours and remove all the evil stories that are largely untrue.”
But the Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who represented the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at the event said contrary to belief in some quarters, the Senate was in support of the fight against corruption at all levels of governance.
While speaking, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, challenged governors, including el-Rufai, to disclose how much they are paid as security votes in their respective states.
Though he said he wouldn’t want to take issues with el-Rufai, the Speaker said the governors should also explain to Nigerians how they spend the funds belonging to local government councils in their states, which Dogara said the governors withhold under the guise of state/local government joint account.
He said, “I will like to challenge him (el-Rufai) to champion this cause for transparency in the budgetary process from the National Assembly to other arms of government. The Judiciary first.
“We want to see clearly how chief executives of states… how they are paid. What do they spend monthly as security votes? And if they can publish what happens to local government funds under their jurisdictions, that will help our discussion going forward.”
The speaker stated that the legislature had already taken a decision to make its budget open, beginning with this year’s budget, saying the National Assembly had its own peculiar challenges, while describing it as the most “misunderstood” of the three arms of government.