Speaking at a retreat for the management of the National Assembly in Kaduna on Friday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara challenged Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state to publish how local government allocations and security votes are utilised in his state.
Dogara made the call in reaction to El-Rufai’s earlier statement that the National Assembly should publish the breakdown of its budget.
“I will like to challenge him (El-Rufai) to champion this cause for transparency in the budgetary process from the National Assembly to other arms of government beginning with the judiciary. What do they spend monthly as security votes, and if they can publish what happens to local government funds under their jurisdictions, that will help our discussion going forward,” Premium Times quoted Dogara as saying.
Dogara had also added that all over the world, the parliament is the most “misunderstood” institution.
“When, for instance, public discussions on funding of the legislature are being made, the entire bureaucracy is often completely discountenanced. No consideration is given to the fact that this is a special bureaucracy saddled with a multitude of ‘masters’ who must be equally served in addition to service to the nation,” Dogara had said.
El-Rufai’s response is contained in a statement released on Monday. Read below:
Our attention has been drawn to a challenge by Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, calling on Kaduna State to make public its Security Votes and Local Government expenditure. This challenge was thrown as a response to Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s request to the National Assembly (NASS) to provide further details on the opaque N115 billion (One Hundred and Fifteen Billion Naira) 2016 NASS budget. Malam Nasir El-Rufai welcomes this challenge as a necessary step to improve and strengthen our democracy and would like to respond as follows:
- The budgets of all state governments in Nigeria are detailed out and presented at least under the headings of:
- personnel cost
- overhead, and
- capital expenditure
This is unlike the budget of the National Assembly which is a single line item of over N100 billion that divulges zero information or details. NASS can at least break down its own single line budget into the hundreds of line items that are detailed in every state government budget in Nigeria. It is disingenuous to respond to every request for transparency by casting aspersions.
2. On our part, the Kaduna State government has consistently made public all its budget details. In 2016, in an unprecedented step, the State published not only its own budget, but also that of all the 23 Local Government Councils online on the www.openkaduna.com.ng website. The Local Government budgets provide details of the recurrent and capital spending of every single LG in a transparent manner. The proposed 2017 LG Budgets, currently before the State Assembly, are also already online on the same website, and on www.kdsg.gov.ng. Approved State Budgets 2016-2017 can be found on http://openkaduna.com.ng/Budget/approved-budget. We invite the Right Honourable Speaker to download and peruse at his pleasure.
3. As regards Kaduna State Security Votes, once again, if the Honourable Speaker had run an online search he would have discovered the details of our spending priorities on security as a State Government. As our Kaduna Comprehensive Security Architecture (KADCoSA) outlines, the State is directing security spending on four pillars; Justice, Technology, Community Engagement and Support to Security Agencies. The 2017 budget details specific amounts:
- N1.5bn (one and half billion naira) for the Procurement & Installation of CCTV Cameras for Monitoring and Surveillance towards Reducing Criminal Activities within the Metropolis.
- N193m (one hundred and ninety-three million naira) for Procurement of Geo-position Interceptor and location of GSM UMTS System to Check the Trends and Intercept/locate kidnappers’ GSM calls.
- N265m (two hundred and sixty-five million naira) for the Procurement of Drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to identify locations of armed bandits in our Forest Reserves across the state and the Establishment of a Forensic Laboratory to assist in determining substantial evidence in cases that otherwise proved difficult in the past.
- In addition, N2.6bn (two billion and six hundred million naira) is allocated in 2017 to support the network of federal Security Agencies in Kaduna with communications, logistics and materiel.
4. Details of actual spending in 2015 for security and indeed every line item in the State budgets are also publicly available via the annual report of the Accountant-General accessible on www.kdsg.gov.ng.
5. The 2015 accounts of the Kaduna State Government have been audited, and the audit summary published in major newspapers and on the state website on 21st June 2016. The Accountant-General’s report for 2016 has been finalized and its audit is ongoing and will be published as usual. The audited state government accounts can also be found on http://openkaduna.com.ng/Budget/audited.
6. The Kaduna State government will continue to remain transparent and open in all its finances. That is what we have promised to all our people and that is what our party, the APC and our President stand for. Malam Nasir El-Rufai is today making publicly available his pay-slip as Governor of Kaduna State. In February 2017, the Kaduna State Government paid the Governor a net salary of N470,521.74, with the following details:
7. The amount may appear puny but it reflects what the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission approved as the salary and allowances of every State Governor adjusted to reflect provision in-kind of accommodation and transportation.
8. Governor Nasir El-Rufai would like to reiterate his call for the NASS leadership to do the same and disclose the details of the National Assembly budget, and the salaries and allowances of its leadership.
9. The call to #OpenNASS is not a personal one. It is one which the leadership of the National Assembly owes to all Nigerians. It is therefore disingenuous for the Speaker to use State Government budgets as the excuse for the opacity of the NASS budget. In 2016, the NASS budget for its 469 members was larger than the capital budget of Kaduna State, with close to 10 million inhabitants. It is also larger than the entire budget of several Nigerian States. Indeed, over the past ten years from 2008, the NASS as an institution has cost the country over a trillion naira without any detail on how this amount was allocated and spent.
10. There is no state government in Nigeria with a budget nearly as opaque as that of NASS. In March 2016, this National Assembly, led by its Chairman, promised to provide a detailed breakdown of the National Assembly budget. Nigerians are waiting.