Will The 8th Senate Score Another Goal?
Over the years, as our collective national purse has gotten smaller, Nigerians home and abroad have been clamouring for a reduction of the National Assembly’s budget. These calls for reduction have also been accompanied with parallel calls for more transparency in the funding of the National Assembly. As it stands, the Senate – under the leadership of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, seems to have finally taken heed of Nigerians’ request, as the Senator James Manager-led committee, has submitted its recommendations on Senate budget reductions.
If the report of the Manager committee, is implemented, it will show that truly, the 8th Senate is paying attention to the vast majority of Nigerian, and it will set this class of Senators apart as a group that care more about fixing Nigeria, than lining their pockets.
On his part, Dr. Saraki, who has carefully towed the line on this issue since his inauguration as Senate President, has said it on several occasions to both national and international audiences that the 8th senate will be transparent, open, and will work to comply with international best practices.
Nigerians voted for change, and one of the prominent accessories to this change, was a promised fight against corruption. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who handed over power to President Muhammadu Buhari, was said to have led a government that was marred with incessant levels of corruption. Such corruption, which has been said to be a primary bane towards Nigeria’s development, has been accompanied by frivolous spending of institutions like the National Assembly, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). As it stands, it seems like the Senate, is ready to work to ensure that on its part, the Upper Legislative Chamber will no longer contribute to the declining national purse by inordinate spending.
The Manager Committee, which was tasked to work in line with the transparency and openness promised by Saraki in his inaugural speech, is set to bring to the floor of the Senate, details of the finances of the upper legislative house. If the findings and recommendations of the committee are approved by the Senate, it will automatically trigger budget reductions, transparency, accountability in the funding of the Senate, which will in turn, force the House of Representatives to adopt similar measures.
At this critical time, when states are unable to pay workers salaries, the slashing of the remuneration of members of National Assembly to reduce the cost of governance and bail the country out of economic distress will serve as a welcome development. This will demonstrate the commitment of the 8th Senate towards building the new Nigeria that the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised during the last elections.
If Saraki’s leadership of the 8th Senate, can muster the required votes, and willpower to pass the adoption of the Manager Committee report, it will be another first scored by the 8th Senate, particularly, coming on the heels of the widely applauded and successful trip by the Senate delegation to the North-east that is currently being ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
For now, we shall watch and wait…
Saka Olawale writes from Kwara.
Connect him on Twitter: @Wagzie01