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Exposing the fraud in NASS budget




By Jaafar Jaafar

In an unprecedented budget fraud, the National Assembly has appropriated N370 billion on running costs, contingency, vague and duplicated projects for the Senate and House of Representatives in the 2024 Appropriation Act.

I’m not talking about the hundreds of billions of naira padded in other ministries, departments and agency, but what they budgeted for their welfare and running of the National Assembly.

In the N370 billion NASS budget, the lawmakers duplicated projects and created new, unnecessary projects that increased the budget from N170billion in 2023 to N370 billion this year.

In budget (under Statutory Transfers ), the NASS budgeted 36,727,409,155 for the National Assembly Office; N49,144,916,519 for the Senate; N78,624,487169 for the House of Representatives; N12,325,901,366 for the National Assembly Service Commission and; N20,388,339,573 for Legislative Aides.

A senator recently told me that each of them (and members of the House of Reps) is entitled to five aides, while the four presiding officers (Senate President, Speaker and their deputies) have at least N3,000 aides. In total, you are talking about over 5,000 aides!

Despite the foregoing, the NASS budgeted N30,807,475,470 for “General Services” and N15billion as “Service-Wide Vote” – known in administrative parlance as “contingency” or “security vote”. The NASS never had anything like service-wide vote in the past as “service-wide vote” is always exclusive to the Executive arm. Insiders said this is a clear case of budget padding as the purpose for the huge appropriations are vague.

Even the retired clerks and perm secs (despite receiving their pensions) are not left out in this public funds buffet as they got N1.2billion padded for them.

Apart from padding the intangibles, the NASS will spend N4billion to build recreation center; about N6billion to furnish committee rooms for the two chambers and; another N6billion to build car parks for senators and members (don’t ask me whether they lack any parking space).

And despite this, the lawmakers padded N30 billion in the FCDA budget for “Completion of NASS Chambers” and N20billion for “completion of NASS Service Commission”! In the same budget, the lawmakers set aside another N10billion (under NASS budget) for the completion of National Assembly Service Commission building! How did this happen? No be juju be dis?

Still hungry to devour public resources, the avaricious parliamentarians budgeted another N3billion for the “Upgrade of NASS Key Infrastructures”. How come? What about the N30billion budgeted for “Completion of NASS Chambers”?

NASS Library Complex, named after President Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, got N12billion as take-off grant and another N3billion for purchase of books.

Like other institutions under NASS, the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies got N9billion without clearly stating how or where the resources will apply to. The same institute also got another N4.5billion (is this ‘jara’?) for completion of its headquarters.

Despite the dedicated powerline and powerful generators backing up power supply in the National Assembly, the lawmakers budgeted N4billion to install solar power system. I guess this will give them a reason to pad billions for the purchase of batteries every year.

The committee that superintended this butchery of public resources, the Appropriations Committees of the Senate and the House of Reps, got N200m each for a job well done.

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