By Timileyin Omilana
Nigeria’s National Assembly Friday released the details of its budget for the 2018 fiscal year.
“Find the details of the 2018 Budget of the National Assembly here… . This is in accordance with the commitment of the leadership of the 8th @NASSNigeria to accountability and transparency,” Office of the Senate President tweeted on Friday.
This is coming after several civil society groups in the country made a demand, directing the legislative arm to release its spending list.
The 45-page document shows that a total of N139,500,000,000 was budgeted for the National Assembly in the year 2018.
The National Assembly of Nigeria is a bicameral legislature established under section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution with two different houses, Senate of Nigeria and House of Representatives of Nigeria.
Of the total sum, N35,582,085,699 was appropriated for the Senate, while the House of Representatives got N57,425,137,793.
N10,202,095,928 was budgeted for legislative aides, the National Assembly office got N15,389,235,912, while the National Assembly Commission got N2,736,081,266.
The National Assembly Legislative Institute got N4,373,813,596, while N1,145,143,254 was appropriated for service-wide vote of the Legislature.
In November, some legislative aides to federal lawmakers accused the lawmakers of “criminal diversion of their budgeted legitimate entitlements.”
In a petition sent to the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, they demanded an investigation into the allegations.
They also copied President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, Director General of the State Security Service, Yusuf Bichi, and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owansanoye in the letter.
In the letter, nine of the aides, who did not want their names mentioned for fear of victimisation, signed on the endorsement page of the petition. The letter was dated November 19 and received by the anti-graft agency same day.
They accused the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sani Omolori, of diverting funds appropriated to them. They accused them of complicity in the management of the legislative aides’ account.
An investigation in 2016 revealed that no fewer than 2,570 aides are engaged by the 469 members of the 8th National Assembly. Out of the number, 700 aides work for lawmakers in the Senate, while the remaining 1,870 are engaged by House of Representatives members.
As provided in the National Assembly Act, each lawmaker, excluding principal officers, is entitled to five aides – one Senior Legislative Aide (SLA), two legislative aides, a personal assistant and a secretary.
Also, the president of the senate is entitled to 45 aides, his deputy, 30, and 20 each for principal officers.
Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives has 35 assistants, Deputy Speaker, 15 and 10 each for the six principal officers of the House of Representatives.
The number of aides to each legislator, it was gathered, includes those in their constituency offices.