The legislative arm of government may be unsustainable if it continues to receive inadequate funding, Hon. Yunusa Abubakar, member of the House of Representative committee on House Service said.
His comment comes following the lamentation by Benjamin Kalu, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, during a media briefing last week, that the “…the House is broke and it is afraid to appropriate the sufficient amount for them to do their job”.
But Hon. Abubakar on Tuesday on ‘Sunrise Daily’, a show on Channels Television, disagreed that the House of Representative was broke and rephrased his colleagues statement as the house was “inadequately funded”.
The expenses of the legislative arm that gulp money according to the lawmaker, include maintenance of cars, buildings, microphones, air conditioners, salaries of legislative aides, travels, among others.
Comparing the United States Congress with Nigeria’s legislature, Abubakar said that US legislators earn more from salaries and members representative allowances than their Nigerian counterparts.
“When you compare this, the Presidential system of government is very costly to run. Since Nigeria chose this system of government, then we have to look into its own attendants,” Abubakar said.
The lawmaker said that in the last assembly, he was part of a committee which carried out needs assessment of each member and concluded that the amount allocated to the national assembly was “grossly inadequate”.
“According to the bureaucracy, that is our own administrator, to maintain our chamber alone, they are spending over N40million monthly,” he disclosed.
“At least, a member needs not less than N25million monthly to effectively discharge… that is what we call imprest… effectively to run your office which is if not more equivalent to that of minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What we are getting now is by far less than N10million.”
In the proposed 2021 budget, N16 billion was allocated to the management of the national assembly. The Lawmaker argued that the legislature should get double of that amount for running cost because it spends huge amount of money to air parliamentary sessions every Thursday, on newspapers for publications and public hearings.
“Almost every day, we conduct not less than five or four public hearings… You can’t conduct public hearings with less than N10million. This budget does not even contain our salaries, it’s just the running cost. What is taking the chunk of the money is how to conduct the day-to-day business of the legislative arm of government,” the lawmaker said.
While many sectors of the economy get below 10 percent budgetary allocations and many Nigerians say that lawmakers are overpaid, Abubakar argued that the entire budget of N134billion for the legislature was less than two percent and funds needed to ensure the legislature has enough money to function, should be pulled from 98 percent of the budget.
Affirming that the presidential system of government is expensive, Abubakar agreed that the country’s double legislative house be collapsed into one in order to cut the cost of governance.
“We are for the people and if that is the desire of the people, why not?” the lawmaker said responding to whether the house would accept the idea.
However, he said that a bill to merge the two legislative houses which consist of 109 Senate members and 360 House of Representatives members should come from the executive arm of government.
“If they (executive arm) wouldn’t really comprehend, and appreciate the work of the legislature, then I’m sorry we’ll continue to have this conflict. And it would reach a time whereby the legislature arm of government as far as Nigeria is concerned may not function,” Abubakar said.
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