Nigeria: National Assembly Increases Own Budget to N228.1bn, Releases Details

The N228.1 billion approved for the National Assembly shows an increase of about N59.1 billion – against the N169 billion proposed by the president.

The National Assembly has increased its budget to N228.1 billion for the 2023 fiscal year.

The approved sum is part of the N21.8 trillion budget for 2023 passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the 2023 budget passed by the lawmakers reflects an increase of over N1.3 trillion against the N20.5 trillion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October.

It is the last federal budget for the Buhari administration as it will leave office in May 2023.

In the 2023 budget, the lawmakers approved N967.5 billion for Statutory Transfers (a category to which the National Assembly’s budget falls). And in this category, they approved N228.1 billion (228,106,146,208) for the legislature for the coming year – the highest ever.

A breakdown and details of the allocation are contained in a document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.

Budget increase and attempt at transparency

The N228.1 billion approved for the National Assembly shows an increase of about N59.1 billion – against the N169 billion proposed by the president.

The lawmakers increased their 2023 budget despite an initial increase by the president from N125 billion in previous years, to N128 billion for 2021, N134 billion for 2022 and N169 billion for 2023.

The ninth assembly also released details of its approved budget for 2023. And therein, there were provisions for Constitution review – N850 million, Severance/inauguration of outgoing and incoming lawmakers and legislative aides – N30.1 billion, among others.

Of the N228.1 billion, the House of Representatives is to get the biggest share of about N52 billion while the Senate will get N33.2 billion.

A total of N16.5 billion was approved for legislative aides, N30.5 billion for the “National Assembly office” while N10.5 billion was provided for the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC).

A total of N118.9 billion and N142.8 billion were budgeted for the Senate and House Public Accounts Committees respectively. While the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations are to get N125 million and N165 million respectively.

The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) is to get N7.4 billion and a total of N1 billion was budgeted for the Office of retired clerks and permanent secretaries while N671.3 million was appropriated for the service-wide vote of the legislature.

  • Another N11.3 billion was appropriated for “general service.”
  • Further line items in the National Assembly’s budget include:
  • National Assembly library building (ongoing) – N4.2 billion.
  • Hosting of the conference of speakers of African parliament – N127 million.
  • National Assembly liabilities – N8.5 billion.
  • National Assembly e-library – N255 million.
  • National Assembly dashboard – N118.1 million.
  • Completion of National Assembly library complex – N7.5 billion.
  • Completion of NILDS headquarters – N2.5 billion.
  • Construction of NASC building – N10 billion.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Barau Jibrin, who presented details of the budget before it was passed, said the amount was increased because certain items of expenditure were not initially catered for. And some key projects and components were not adequately funded.

Hence the lawmakers’ decision to “improve on them.”

Other allocations

Other components that made up the N967.4 billion Statutory Transfers include N65 billion for the Nigerian Judicial Council, N119.9 billion for the Niger Delta Development Commission, N51.5 billion for Basic Health Care Fund and N103.2 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission.

Others are N173.6 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission, N10.6 billion for the Public Complaints Commission, N4.5 billion for the National Human Rights Commission and N59 billion for North East Development Commission.

A total of N51.6 billion was also allocated to the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure.

The entire allocation for the legislature is, however, subject to final approval and assent by the president. Although Mr Buhari queried the lawmakers for padding the 2022 budgets with inconsequential projects, it remains unclear if he will query them this time.

The president is expected to sign the budget into law by 31 December.

The ninth assembly’s decision to disclose details of its budget comes amid calls – that have lingered for years – to previous assemblies for transparency in their annual budgets. Both individuals and civic groups berated lawmakers for shrouding their appropriations in secrecy.

One of such calls came from BudgIt, a civic group, focused on simplifying budgetary information for Nigerians – through a campaign tagged #OpenNASS.

The former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had in 2017, published details of the legislature’s budget for the year but that was the last of it. The National Assembly returned to its ‘secret mode’.

The budget is the last for the ninth assembly as it is expected to be dissolved in June.

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