Tuesday, 21 July 2015

David Mark: National Assembly budget open, transparent

Immediate past Senate president, David Mark, has argued that there is no secrecy in the affairs of the National Assembly.

Although Mark insisted that parliamentary budgets and salaries were open and transparent, he however, did not disclose the take home pay of a Nigerian legislator.

With a Nigerian senator earning N240 million in salaries and allowances and his House of Representatives counterpart taking home N204 million annually, Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world.

Reacting to insinuations in some quarters that the National Assembly budget and salaries are shrouded in secrecy, Mark maintained that such allegation was borne out of deliberate mischief, blackmail or outright ignorance.

In a statement by his media assistant, Paul Mumeh on Monday, the former Senate president posited that the National Assembly was the first to reduce its budget from N150 billion to N120 billion as part of sacrifices in the budgetary system.

The federal lawmaker described as ridiculous, impression that the National Assembly increases its budget annually.

“How can anyone claim that the National Assembly budget is secret? Or that our earnings are secret. The National Assembly budget is part and parcel of the federal budget. It is not a separate document. If any body is in doubt, he or she should get a copy of the national budget and clarify. It is a public document.

“Every time you hear people talk about National Assembly budget as if it is independent of the Federal budget. For heaven’s sake, the National Assembly budget is an open document. It is a public document. Unless you are saying you have never seen the National Budget.

“The National Assembly budget is in the open. Anybody can access it. We don’t fix our salaries. Appropriate federal government agency does. What we earn is open. I think we should put an end to this cheap blackmail.

“I make bold to say that the National Assembly under my leadership Was bold, courageous, steadfast and truly patriotic. We stood on the side of the people, the truth, transparency and above all in the interest of the nation.

“We were the first to make cut in our 2015 budget. People should appreciate what we are doing. We tightened our belts more than any other ministry or parastatal today. I can put my hand on my chest without fear of contradiction to say we make a lot of sacrifices in our budgetary systems,” he said.

He cautioned against reducing critical national matters to politics, saying “people should not play politics with serious national issues like appropriations.

“With every sense of responsibility, in 2008, the National Assembly under my leadership was the first arm of government to return the sum of N7 billion unspent fund to the national treasury during late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration. Some people would have done otherwise.
“I remain a patriotic and committed pan-Nigerian, ever determined to do my utmost best to improve the lots of my country men and women.”

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