Monday 24th July, 2017
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Stop undermining, distracting NASS, Reps warn El-Rufai

Stop undermining, distracting NASS, Reps warn El-Rufai

The House of Represent­atives yesterday warned Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai to concentrate his efforts in governing Kaduna State and stop undermining and distracting the National Assembly from playing its constitutionally assigned role in nation-building.
Addressing newsmen yes­terday in Abuja, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Abdurazak Namdas, also called on the gov­ernor to publish his security votes and what they do with local gov­ernment funds under their juris­diction.
Accusing the governor of im­pressing his colleagues, the law­makers asked El-Rufai to extend his campaign to other arms of governments.
“Nigerians may recall that the Rt. Hon. Speaker on Friday April 7, 2017, in response to calls by Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, disclosed that the leadership of the National Assem­bly had directed the bureaucracy and all other agencies under the National Assembly to make avail­able details of their annual budg­ets, beginning from the 2017 Budget which is still under con­sideration in the parliament.”
“Nigerians may further recall that the Rt. Hon. Speaker request­ed Kaduna State Governor, El-Rufai, who is known for his con­sistent advocacy for openness in the budget of the National Assem­bly, to, in the spirit of good gov­ernance, transparency and ac­countability, extend his campaign to other arms and tiers of govern­ment beginning from the Judici­ary, to State Governments and Local Governments. The Speaker specifically urged Malam El-Rufai who has been championing this cause to impress on his colleagues (Governors) to disclose their Se­curity Votes and also publish what they do with local government funds under their jurisdictions.”
“Thus, the call by the Speaker was for Malam El-Rufai to extend his advocacy on transparency and accountability to other arms and tiers of government in order to re­move the lid of secrecy that has beclouded expenditures at the state level led by his colleagues, especially on their security votes and not the states’ security budg­et. We note that what Malam El-Rufai published was the security budget of Kaduna State and not his security vote expenditure as such.”
“We wish to advise the Kadu­na State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to concentrate his ef­forts in governing Kaduna State and stop undermining and dis­tracting the National Assembly in playing its constitutionally as­signed role in nation building.
“He launched an attack on the National Assembly on Fri­day, 7th April, 2017 and contin­ued on Monday 10th April 2017. We are aware that there are seri­ous security issues he should be grappling with in Southern Ka­duna and other governmental is­sues facing him. He should not give the impression that he has no challenging work to do in Ka­duna State.”
“These attacks are coming on the heels of his now famous letter to Mr. President, Muham­madu Buhari, GCFR, where he made strenuous efforts to under­mine his government, by open­ly lampooning him when he has unhindered access to His Excel­lency, Mr. President. As a sen­ior citizen, he has a responsibility not to unnecessarily overheat the polity with tendentious and un­founded outbursts.”
Namdas explained that the National Assembly Budget is not opaque, adding that since 2010 when the Constitution was amended and the National As­sembly was placed on the First Line Charge, its budget became part of Statutory Transfers, to­gether with the Judiciary, INEC and others.
“You cannot find details of the Budget of the Judiciary and INEC in the National Budget. It exists elsewhere. Of course, from 1999 to 2010, the details of the National Assembly Budget was contained in the National Budget,” he said.
Explaining that the leader­ship of the National Assembly has already directed the Clerk to publish details of its Budget from 2017, adding that the claim by El-Rufai that “in 2016, the Nation­al Assembly budget for its 469 members was larger than the en­tire budget of several Nigerian States,” was misleading.
“This statement is patently misleading and a terrible display of ignorance and falsehood or a deliberate attempt to blackmail the parliament. For the avoid­ance of doubt, the National As­sembly budget includes the sala­ries, allowances, expenditure and running cost of 469 members. It includes the salaries, allowances of about 3,000 Legislative Aides; it includes the salaries, allowanc­es, equipment and maintenance of about 5000 staff in the Bureau­cracy of the National Assembly.”
“The National Assembly has agencies too. The National As­sembly Service Commission has a staff strength of about 500. The National Institute for Legislative Studies is also a parastatal of the National Assembly that serves as a legislative think-tank and a highly rated academic institution, which serves not only the National As­sembly but also State Houses of Assembly and the international community.”
“It is currently building its headquarters which is world class. It has to be funded. El-Rufai’s mis­chievous publication carefully ig­nores the fact that the Bureaucra­cy of the National Assembly and its agencies and 469 members need travel and transport sup­port. They require medical at­tention, offices, equipment and all the support available to others in the public service.”
“El-Rufai conveniently for­got that the National Assembly has buildings to build and main­tain. He discountenanced the need for training and re-training of staff and even capacity build­ing for members. The narrative is such that he excludes the need for National Assembly members and bureaucracy to attend conferenc­es both local and foreign. Some of the most critical work the Nation­al Assembly does is Oversight. It costs a lot of money to conduct proper oversight of executive agencies to save money and en­sure governmental efficiency for the Nigerian people.”
“Public Hearings by the Na­tional Assembly and its Commit­tees have become a regular fea­ture of our democracy, because citizen engagement and consul­tation is cardinal for running a democratic government. It costs a lot of money.”
 

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