Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, on Thursday reacted to the allegation by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, that he (el-Rufai) only disclosed the security allocation in the budget and not his security votes.
The governor said the state does not operate its security votes like the National Assembly “which has a system of sharing public funds.”
El-Rufai spoke in response to a challenge by Dogara that all governors, including el-Rufai, should make public their security budgets and explain how they disbursed local government funds.
Dogara had thrown the challenge in response to el-Rufai’s earlier call on federal lawmakers to make public details of their 2016 budgetary allocation of N115bn.
Accepting Dogara’s challenge on Monday, el-Rufai, though his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, said he welcomed the challenge as a necessary step towards improving and strengthening the nation’s democracy.
He explained that there was no security vote for the office of the Governor of Kaduna State, noting that what was presented represented the only security vote for the entire government.
El-Rufai said, “The Kaduna State Government has presented details of its security budget. What was presented represents the only security vote for the entire government. As the figures show, there is no security vote for the Governor of Kaduna State.
“This may be a shock to those who are used to the notion of security votes as barely disguised slush funds, but we do not operate such a system in Kaduna.
“Our budgets specify what is voted as assistance to security agencies, and its expenditure is properly recorded and accounted for. These are not monies given to or spent by the governor.”
He added, “Our security spending does not operate like the NASS system of sharing public funds in such an opaque fashion that even NASS members do not know how their entire budget is broken down or what the leadership gets as its ‘running costs’.
“The figures in the pay slips presented for the honorable Speaker are in stark contrast to the declaration by The Economist regarding the earnings of NASS members. One of the claims cannot be right.”
According to el-Rufai, it was inconceivable that an important institution vested with law-making and oversight functions could ignore the imperative to set “an example of transparency, despite being severally urged to do so.”
Urging those interested in advancing the course of democracy to remain focused on the issue, the governor argued further that it was strange that “persons entrusted with high office will justify their abdication of the responsibility to be transparent in such cavalier fashion.”
“We don’t believe that most of our esteemed legislators will construe a demand for transparency as aimed at undermining the National Assembly,” he added.
He noted that notwithstanding the intemperate response of the spokesman for the House of Representatives, the demand that the National Assembly budget should be made public would not go away.
“It is not personal, “ el-Rufai declared, adding that there was a strong civic constituency that was demanding it.
“The sooner all of us in public life recognised that the game has changed… the better for our democratic health,” he said.
On local government funding, el-Rufia reiterated his call for the National Assembly to download and analyse the states’ budgets and the actual spending which, he said, were in the public domain.