On Thursday, the National Assembly opened its N125 billion 2017 budget for public scrutiny, ending eight years of mystery and showing what it costs to maintain a lawmaker.
The media office of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had released a document, a line-by-line detail of the expenses of the National Assembly, taking a radical departure from previous years when the public only had knowledge of the total sum as one line item in the whole national budget. As of 2016, the National Assembly had a budget of N115 billion.
Out of the N125 billion, for capital and recurrent expenditures, the Senate and the House of Representatives have N31,398,765,886 and N49,052,743,983 respectively. In sum, therefore, N80.45 billion was appropriated for the both chambers, consisting of 469 lawmakers, for salaries, security equipment, insurance premium, cars, computers, internet service, office maintenance, telephone charges, electricity charges, water rates, committees activities, travels, training and medical expenses among others, so, on average, it will take about N171.57 million to maintain each lawmaker in 2017.
However, individual earnings differ. Apart from the fact that there are differences in earnings based on whether a lawmaker is a Senator or Reps member and whether an ordinary member or principal officer, most of the sum does not go to lawmakers, but services and other capital items to keep their offices running.
In terms of specific salaries, the House of Representatives has N4.9 billion to pay salaries and wages of the 360 members, translating to N13.6 million for each member annually.
About N1.8 billion goes to the Senate for salaries and wages of its 109 members, bringing the earnings of each senator to N17.58 million annually., but these earnings appear to be basic, excluding allowances, possibly spread under various heads like House public and investigative hearing, allocated N4.3 billion; Senate committees activities, N1.2 billion; Senate administration, N503 million; House administration, N619 million; House committees activities, N3.6 billion; Senate program activities, N2.6 billion; and other others such as travels, training.
Apart from the two lawmaking bodies, National Assembly management is to get N14.9 billion, while the service commission receives N2.4 billion. N4.3 billion is earmarked for the National Assembly Institute of Legislative Studies.
Legislative aides, with each lawmaker having at least five, are allocated N9.6 billion.
General services, service wide vote, Senate public account committee and House public account committee get N12.5 billion, N391 million, N118 million and N142 million respectively.
The public disclosure of the NASS budget came with the passage of the 2017 appropriation bill by the lawmakers on Thursday, as promised by Senate President Bukola Saraki last week and by Speaker Yakubu Dogara earlier in the year.
In 2010, Mr. Saraki’s predecessor, David Mark, led the enthronement of ultra-secrecy that defined the National Assembly budget before now.