By John Ikani
The Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has bluntly disagreed with dissenting views that the budget of the National Assembly was too high, stressing that the legislature spends less than two percent of the national budget.
Gbajabiamila disclosed this at the 10th annual symposium of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, B-Zone, in Abeokuta, as his reaction to a statement credited to the Vice-Chancellor of Ahman Pategi University, Patigi, Kwara state, Professor Mahfouz Adedimeji, who said that Nigeria runs the most expensive National Assembly in the world.
What the varsity don said:
The university boss and the Speaker both spoke at the symposium.
Prof. Adedimeji, who was the guest lecturer at the occasion touched on the theme, ‘Saving a nation on the precipice: between re-federation and secessionism.’
Adedimeji had emphasized the need to rejig the operations of the legislature in Nigeria, stating that the nation’s parliament is the most expensive in the world.
“With due respect to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nigeria spends the highest amount of money on the legislators in the world and the National Assembly consumes more money than any other parliament in the world.
“A unicameral legislature with two representatives from each state is sufficient. The National Assembly should have less than 100 members, including Abuja,” the varsity don said in his lecture.
Gbajabiamila, who was represented by a member of the House of Representatives from Ifo/Ewekoro constituency, Hon Ibrahim Isiaka, described Adedemeji’s perception as wrong.
He said “No one till today has actually sat down to go into research and define the meaning of legislators.
“The money being spent on the national assembly is less than two percent of the total budget of this country; but nobody, has ever looked at what is happening to the remaining 98 percent. And when you say National Assembly, you are not talking about legislators, who are the lawmakers only. You are also talking about the National Assembly Commission, you are talking about everything, all-encompassing,” he said.
In case you missed it:
There have been calls by Nigerians in recent times demanding for a slash in the jumbo pay that members of the National Assembly receive as salary.
The calls were not unconnected to a revelation made by former Senator Shehu Sani who in 2018 revealed that Nigerian Senators are earning N13.5 million monthly as running cost.
The lawmaker said the running cost was in addition to the over N750,000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances of each member of the Senate.
At the peak of calls by Nigerians for a slash in the jumbo pay received by lawmakers, ALI Ndume, senator representing Borno South in the Nigerian Senate said the legislators’ pay had no impact on the country’s economy.
According to him: “It has no effect on the economy,” he said, adding that, the lawmakers only got N128 billion allocation out of N13 trillion 2021 budget.
“For me, call out the National Assembly, cancel the NASS. That means you have a N128 billion reduction but does that make any difference? Because this thing (calls for the reduction of National Assembly members’ pay) is getting too much for people like me that have come out to serve; not because I came out to be rich,” Ndume said.