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2022 budget: N134bn NOT enough for lawmakers

Spokesperson of the house of representatives, Benjamin Kalu has stated that the allocation for the national assembly in 2022 budget is “not enough”.

Recall that the federal government budgeted N134 billion for the national assembly in the 2022 appropriation bill.

Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, Kalu said the N134 billion is not sufficient for the lawmakers to operate the various committees and carry out their oversight function.

“This is an interesting part that concerns the house, which many people are afraid of discussing, but which I took my time today to mention. And that has to do with the statutory transfers,” he said.

“If you do a proper analysis of statutory transfers for 2021, you will be seeing N768.28 billion and this is an increase of about 58.7 percent from the last one which was about N484.49 billion, which means that what was added to it was N283.79 billion. Now, this increase, one would have expected that it would impact positively on the budget of the national assembly; it is a common reasoning.

“Over the years, you have increased the budget from one level to the other and the percentage of the oversighting arm of government keeps dropping. I took my time; I argued that when we had budgets with lower aggregate expenditure, it was reduced from N150 billion to N128 billion. But overtime, this has dwindled more and as it is dwindling, consideration is not made to the volatile reaction of the foreign exchange.

“Consideration is not being made to the reactions in our economy, consideration is not being made to the purchasing power of our currency. I took my time to x-ray the 2019 budget and the percentage of the budget of the national assembly against the general budget, 2019 to date — you will be shocked to hear that it has been dwindling towards 0.1 percent.

“I will tell you to your shock that in 2019, the comparative percentile relationship between the budget of the national assembly and the entire budget was 1.42 percent in 2019, and that was N125 billion on a general budget of N8.83 billion.

“In 2020, what the national assembly got was N128 billion which represented 1.18 percent of the N10.8 trillion (budget). In 2021, we had N134 billion against N13.1 trillion and the percentage went down again to 0.98 percent.

“Now, we are coming to 2022. While the dollar has gone from where it was to over N500, our budget is still the same N134 billion. The national budget has moved from N13 trillion to N16 trillion. The budget of the national assembly remains at N134 billion, which is now no longer as big as 0.98 percent of last year; it is now 0.82 percent of the budget.

“Many would ask, ‘why this analysis?’ Many people would ask, ‘are you saying that the money is not enough?’ That is the truth. If you look at the committees and their responsibilities — the work they need to do — they need money to do it and the purchasing power of the money has gone low. It is affecting them, especially on oversight functions.

“The amount of money needed to go on oversight (visits) is no longer sufficient for the job to be done. I stood up (on the floor) to call on the national assembly to review this N134 billion, because there is no need for trying to sound acceptable to Nigerians and we are unable to do the job that you have asked us to do. We can be praised for not changing the budget, but the job you asked us to do remains undone.

“There is no wisdom in that. The wisdom is in you understanding that the purchasing power of the budget of the national assembly can no longer take them to fulfil responsibility assigned to them by the constitution. It has been going down from 2019 till date, and this is the reality.

“The reality of the national assembly budget at N134 billion, I can assure you, and you can throw the stones and do the name-calling, and call us anything you want to call us, but I am willing to take the name-calling as long as the truth is said outside here.”

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