House Deputy Speaker defends NASS N150bn budget

By The Citizen

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun (Osun-APC), on Tuesday said N150 billion budgetary allocation to the National Assembly was not bloated.

Lasun told newsmen in Abuja that N150 billion yearly budgetary allocation to the National Assembly between 2011 and 2014 represented 2.67 per cent of the total budget of the country.

'When you talk about salary, it has to be tied to something. Let me tell you this, for the last three years with the exception of 2015, the budget of National Assembly has been N150 billion. And that is exactly 2.67 per cent of the total budget of the federation.

'So, I don't know where people see this when they said it was 25 percent of the budget of the federation.

'The budget of the National Assembly is 2.67 per cent of the budget of the federation and so it is not overblown.

'People have suddenly forgotten and don't know that there are 469 members in the National Assembly with each one having five aides paid from the N150 billion with their technocrats,

'We have National Assembly commission, all of them draw their salaries and allowances from the N150 billion.

'So when people talk, they say it is only the House of Representatives members and the Senators that collect the N150 billion.

'But they forget that in the 2015 budget, the money has been reduced to N120 billion,'' Lasun said.

The Deputy Speaker, however, expressed the commitment of the 8th assembly to deliver on its legislative roles.

'That is why the Dogara's Speakership in the last one week has repeatedly made it known that he's going to engage in what we call NEEDS assessment.

'We are going to call the development partners to sit down and see what it takes for National Assembly to be involved as an arm of government.

'And you might be surprised that we have reasons that we can compare with other legislative houses all over the world.

According to him, it is not going to come from us; it will come from that body that is going to sit down.

It could be recalled that there was public outcry over the cost of governance and the need for reduction in the salaries and allowances of lawmakers.

A legal practitioner, Mr Lawrence Umudu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the state of the country requires prudent management of its resources.

According to Umudu, accountability and transparency should be the watchwords in the country's drive to address economic challenges facing it.

'As a nation, our problems include unpaid salaries of various states government workers.

'The National Assembly spending N9 billion on allowances is unacceptable to Nigerians.

'We shouldn't spend such amount in our present situation,' Umudu said.