There are indications that the federal government may have taken the decision to cut the budgetary allocation to the National Assembly from N120 billion to N90billion in the 2016 appropriation.
The National Assembly yearly allocation since 2003, has remained at N150 billion except in 2015 when the budget was reduced to N120 billion because of the drastic drop in the price of oil and dwindling federal government revenue.
It was gathered reliably that the federal government, in line with its resolve to cut down the cost of governance at all levels may have concluded plans to further reduce the National Assembly budgetary provision to N90 billion.
A ranking member of the House who disclosed this on the condition of anonymity confirmed the information, saying that “it’s a bad news filtering in from the Presidency, one which the House and the National Assembly as a body may not take likely”.
He said: “How can the President think of further reducing the paltry N20billion to N90billion for an institution that is strategic to his war against corruption? It would be counterproductive, because the Legislature requires adequate funding to effectively carry out oversight functions and expose corruption”.
“How much more does the Executive want us to bend? I’m sure by doing what they are planning is like breaking the legislative arm. They forget that this is the arm with the lowest budget despite the enormous work we are expected to do.
“Under this arm, you have the two legislative chambers, the National Assembly Service Commission, the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) as well as the National Assembly Management. They all draw from this same budget.
“If the President really wants to fight corruption, then he needs a well-funded Legislature that will be immuned to any sort of manipulation by corrupt individuals and organisations who have raped this country to stupor”, he said.
According to him, the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara had encouraged members to brace up for the challenges ahead as the House moves to pursue it legislative agenda to a logical end, which is why he expanded the scope of committee responsibilities to enable the House cover adequate ground in oversighting Ministries, Department and Agencies.
“You could see that the Speaker in his bid to make the House very responsive to the expectations of Nigerians increased the number of standing committees, so that there will be no stone left unturned in performing our oversight responsibilities.
But in doing that, the committees must be well funded so as not to become vulnerable to inducement by those whose corrupt practices we seek to expose and punish.
“It would be disastrous if our budget is further reduced by a dime. And we will resist any such attempt, because there are agencies whose annual budgets are 3-times higher than that of the National Assembly”, the lawmaker said.
It can be recalled that following the crash of global crude oil price which has further plummeted in recent times, the Jonathan administration in the 2015 budget reduced allocation to the National Assembly from N150billion in 2014 to N120billion.