BY Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA—Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Monday, said Nigeria cannot afford to scrap the National Assembly to reduce high cost of governance.
Senator Ndoma-Egba, who spoke at an event on the viability of state police, organised by National Institute of Legislative Studies, in Abuja, argued that the 2012 National Assembly budget was N150 billion, representing three per cent of national budget, while more than that amount was uncovered by the Senate as subsidy payments to fraudulent petroleum marketers.
Ndoma-Egba also maintained that legislators were not on jumbo pay, arguing that the N150 billion includes salaries and emolument for the National Assembly Service Commission, as well as capital and recurrent expenditures of the legislators.
He further argued that scrapping the Senate would deny minority groups in Nigeria the right of representation.
He said: “A former Senator and former governor is canvassing the scrapping of the Senate. If the worry of Nigerians is cost, the total budget of the National Assembly is N150 billion. That N150 billion, includes my salary, which they say is jumbo. My salary is no different from a Ministers’ salary or a Supreme Court Justice’s salary. Theirs is not jumbo, but mine is jumbo.
“The N150 billion includes the salaries of members of the House of Representatives, it includes the salaries and emoluments of the bureaucracy, the staff. It includes the salaries and allowances of our legislative aides. It also include the National Assembly Service Commission, both recurrent and capital.
“It includes the capital budget of the National Assembly. It includes the budget of the institute. We pay our subscription to inter-parliamentary bodies from that money. Everything about the legislature is on the N150 billion. N150 billion is less than ten per cent of what we are trying to establish as what was paid for an opaque fuel subsidy regime. It is only a fraction of what we are investigating in relation to pension.
“N150 billion is about three per cent of the national budget. So if the argument is cost, three per cent cannot be a problem. The argument, therefore, cannot be reducing the cost of governance, because the entire budget of the National Assembly is what you have paid to one fuel importer in one very opaque transition.
“Secondly, why do we have bicameral legislature? All over the world, where you have large population, heterogeneous people, diversity of culture, you usually have two chambers because the lower chamber of the House of Representatives usually represent on the basis of population.”