#OpenNASS: We will make what every legislator receives public, Saraki assures Nigerians

by Dolapo Adelana

Senate President Bukola Saraki has said the Eighth Assembly will provide a breakdown of the earnings of each lawmaker.

Speaking in an interview with Arise TV, the senate President said the Assembly’s budget was distinct from the federal budget.

“On the National Assembly budget, we hope to change the way it’s been perceived, because in the past, not much was known about the National Assembly budget,” Saraki said.

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“But when I came in, I said we were going to change that and make it transparent. We hoped that we could have done it in 2016, but in 2015, unfortunately, we did not settle down as a united Senate as quickly as we could.

“But now that everything is fine, the National Assembly’s budget will be transparent. Nigerians will know what every member receives.

“By the time the budget is passed in the next few weeks, we will make it public and it will be to our advantage, because we hear statements like National Assembly members are the highest paid, because what people do is to take the budget and divide it by 469 members and arrive at our salaries.

“But by the time we present the budget and by the time people see what goes to salaries of aides, what goes to capital, what goes to management, what goes to running costs, and what goes to actual salaries of legislators, the commentary will stop after they see the breakdown.”

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On the face-off between the executive and the National Assembly, Saraki said the relationship between both arms of government was cordial.

“What we have now is very cordial. If you look at the confirmation of nominations from the executive, we have cleared over 90 per cent. If you look at the national budget, the process is much better than in 2016. In a few weeks, we will be done with the process.

“I think people just sensationalise situations. The fact that one person’s nomination was rejected does not mean there is controversy between the executive and the House.

“We don’t define democracy based on individuals. We follow processes, and that is exactly what we have done. By virtue of our presidential system of checks and balances, there is bound to be one off frictions. That is what democracy is all about.”

He stated further, “But we can’t define our democracy based on individuals. There is a process; the process is transparent. The president sent a name and the nominee has been rejected. That is it, we’ve played our own part; and I don’t think the executive is basing the relationship on the rejection of one nominee.

“Also, I think the word face-off is very strong to use, because of the rejection of one nominee, I think there are one or two issues there but they can’t define the relationship,” he stressed.

On the delayed passage of the 2017 budget, Saraki said, “I am very sure that by the time we come back from our break on April 25th, the budget will be passed. That is the time we have in place. We are checking with various committees to see that everything is in order.

“Most of the agencies have defended their budgets, so what all the committees are doing is compiling all the reports. The plan is that when we come back on the 25th (of April), that week we should go into the final consideration of the budget.

“What the Appropriation Committees are doing is to just check that the committees have done their work properly. What we are presently doing is just the house keeping part that it going on,” he explained.

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