The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Sunday pledged to make public details of the National Assembly’s 2016 budget.
The National Assembly has consistently been attacked by Nigerians who question the secretive details of the lawmakers’ annual N150 billion budget.
The lawmakers have repeatedly refused enquiries by Nigerians to make details of their budget, which is gotten directly from the federation account, public.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the National Assembly’s budget could fund major basic needs of Nigerians including funding the capital projects of at least 20 ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government.
This newspaper also reported how the immediate past President of the Senate, David Mark, doubled the National Assembly’s annual financial allocations and then wrapped up the federal lawmaking body’s finances in utmost secrecy to block Nigerians from knowing details of how the jumbo allocations are spent, and how much lawmaker’s earn in allowances.
However on Sunday, Mr. Saraki’s spokesperson, Bamikole Omishore, said in a statement that the release of the 2016 budget details would enable Nigerians not to rely on the ‘falsehood’ they receive from the media.
He said the decision to publicly declare the budget was in fulfilment of his inaugural promise and part of efforts to satisfy the curiosity of some Nigerians clamouring that the budget be made public.
“By the time we come into the 2016 budget, at the end of the year, it will be clearer because people just see one item line,” Mr Omishore said.
“But that is not going to happen now; you will see what goes to the Senate and what goes to the House of Representatives.
“You are going to see what goes to the management, what goes to the Legislative Institute and we are going to make all these open and clear.
“That is part of the openness we promised,” Mr, Saraki said in the statement.
He recalled that at his inauguration on June 9, he promised that there would be change from impunity and elite arrogance to a life of accountability and respect for every citizen.
The embattled senate president, who is being prosecuted for alleged false declaration of asset while he was Kwara State Governor, said the National Assembly must, therefore, justify the privilege of representation conferred on it by the people.
“As the President of the 8th Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, I shall be guided by the enormity of the responsibilities that this moment imposes on all of us,” he said.
Mr. Saraki restated his commitment to remain accessible to the citizens on the dealings of the senate, saying he understood the expectations Nigerians had of him as senate president.