2015 Budget: National Assembly’s N150billion enough to fund capital votes for 20 Federal MDAs
The whopping N150 billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2015 Appropriation Act, can fund capital votes for 20 Ministries, Departments and Parastatals [MDAs], a PREMIUM TIMES analysis of the budget has shown.
The budget of the 469-member National Assembly consisting of 109 senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives, legislative aides, the National Assembly Commission and the Legislative Institute is about 3.4 percent of the total budget of the federation.
The capital vote for 20 major ministries, departments and parastatals is just about N49 million less than is budgeted for the National Assembly this year.
Under the 2015 capital votes, the Ministry of Youth Development got only N1.12billion Ministry of Police Affairs got N150billion, while Police Formations and Commands got only N17billion.
The Ministry of Women Affairs is allocated N1. 25billion for its capital projects, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development got N7billion and Ministry of Water Resources N6billion.
The defence sector, including the Ministry of Defence, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force is allocated only N35billion.
The education sector, including the Federal Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission, is allocated N20billion, while the Federal Ministry of Health got N20billion.
The Federal Ministry of Communication Technology got N500million only while the Federal Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission (N500, 000, 003) received the same allocation for capital projects.
The Ministry of Labour and Productivity is allocated a paltry N200, 000, 000 for its capital projects during the year while the Ministry of Power got N4.24billion.
The Ministry of Science and Technology is given N500 million while the Ministry of Transport got about N4billion and the Petroleum Resources N500million.
With the worsening condition of roads in the country, the Federal Ministry of Works got only about N11billion while with even close to the 15 million housing deficit facing the country, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development got only N500million.
The Federal Ministry of Environment is also allocated about N500million while the office of the National Security Adviser got N20billion.
While getting one of the largest sectoral allocations in the country, the Nigerian lawmakers managed to approve only 106 new laws out of 1,063 brought before them in the last four years.
Despite their dismal performances, the lawmakers have spent more than half a trillion naira within the period, earning the notorious title as the world’s highest paid legislators.
The figures mean for the National Assembly, with a combined annual budget of N150 billion since 2011, returned 10 per cent in efficiency and averaged about two bills each month.
Each year, the Senate, House of Representatives and allied institutions, compete for government funding with projects designed to provide jobs, healthcare, education and roads to the citizens.
While the Goodluck Jonathan administration has shown its preparedness to cut financing to those vital services to Nigerians in the face of dwindling revenues, the government has helped the lawmakers retain their super N150billion budget per year in the last four years.
Not even the present oil crisis has been enough to force the government to minimize the lawmakers’ comfort, by redirecting funds to critical areas badly starved of resources.
A typical example is the 2015 budget, affected massively by sliding oil price. The dwindling revenue forced the government to slash spending for roads – Ministry of Works – from about N160 billion to N11 billion for the entire nation. But the federal lawmakers refused to allow even a dime to be sliced off their N150 billion annual budget.
But while the lawmakers take so much, their work rate has been dismally poor, PREMIUM TIMES analysis show.
The miserable worth of Nigerian legislators’ output is amplified when compared with their American counterparts, for instance.
While the legislature, under the leadership of David Mark and Aminu Tambuwal at the Senate and House of Representatives respectively managed to clear 106 bills in four years, the U.S. Congress passed 297 just between 2013 and 2014.
That figure was indeed one of the lowest for any U.S. Congress session as the two chambers passed 604 in just 1999, and 460 between 2007 and 2008.
Yet, the Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid, according to a 2012 analysis by the UK-based Economist.
The report compared lawmakers’ earnings with their countries’ GDP – what each citizen is worth if their nation’s total wealth was shared by the population.
The analysis found Nigeria ahead of all other countries of the world, with its lawmakers taking 116 times what an average citizen takes of the GDP.
Kenya and Ghana followed with ratios of 75 and 29.8 respectively.
Norway’s ratio was 1.8, while U.S. lawmakers took 3.8 of what their citizens received.
The United States pays its lawmakers an average annual salary of $174,000 while Britain pays parliamentarians $105,000.
Nigerian lawmakers officially receive a modest pay of about $50,000(about N12m) yearly.
But they also pocket several illegal allowances, including the huge quarterly allowance which is nearly a $1m (N220m) a year.
Bills passed in the 7th assembly
Even with the limited numbers of enacted laws, records show most of the bills came from the Executive. Many were budget bills.
While the lawmakers’ turnover has been poor, several critical bills lie abandoned.
The most notable is the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been at the National Assembly since 2008/2009.
Pressed on why the few bills passed by the Senate are mainly executive-sponsored, the Chairman of the Senate Business and Rules Committee, Ita Enang, said the upper chamber gives no preference to bills before it.
“We don’t select bills to pass, we pass bills based on priority. We don’t say we pass a bill because it is an executive bill,” Mr. Enang said.
Sam Tsokwa, the House of Representatives chairman on rules and business, did not respond to our questions despite scheduling several meetings with our correspondent.