Amidst Calls To Reduce Lawmakers’ Salaries, Reps Increase National Assembly Allocation As They Pass 2015 Budget

By Chris Nomjov

House of Representatives has passed the 2015 Appropriation Bill, with an increase of N135.4 billion or 3.1 per cent in expenditure, taking to N4.493 trillion, from the N4.357 trillion proposed by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in November.

Notable among the sections that were jacked up, was the allocation to the National Assembly, which was increased by N5billion from the FEC proposed N115billion to N120billion. This increase is particularly suspect, as it comes few days after the conclusion of the general elections and significantly alters the N115billion hitherto, annual allocation to the lawmakers.

It is instructive to note that, the Legislative chambers have been allotted N600 billion in the past four years without any audit report or expenditure breakdown. The National Assembly has failed to publicly declare how it spends N115 billion, annually. The latest effort by civil society data and statistics, BudgIT to get such breakdown has stalled in the office of the clerk of the National assembly for the past six weeks.

Also, the Lower Chamber retained the Service Wide Vote in the budget, despite the consistent opposition to it by parliamentarians, insisting that it is a slouch fund.

The sum of N4.493 trillion considered at the Committee level, and which passed third reading, was N67.433 billion higher than the N425.425 trillion contained in the report laid on Wednesday by the Chairman, Committees on Appropriations and Finance, John Enoh.

The major difference in the amount stated in the Wednesday report and the final figure passed on Thursday, affected only the statutory transfers which was increased from N366.280 billion to N375.616 billion.

According to the two documents, Niger Delta Development Commission’s allocation was raised from N45.780 billion to N46.720 billion; Universal Basic Education from N67.3 billion to N68.380 billion; National Assembly, from N115 billion to N120 billion; that of the Public Complaint Commission was doubled to N4 billion; while National Human Right Commission, got N1.516 billion, as against N1.2 billion.

The House retained the sums of N73 billion for the National Judicial Council and N62 billion for Independent National Electoral Commission. Unlike in previous years, however, there was no provision for fuel subsidy.

Breakdown of the final amount passed, showed that the lion’s share of N953.62 billion is for debt servicing, followed by N375.616 billion for statutory transfers. The sum of N642.848 billion, inclusive of N144.420 billion, is for capital expenditure in statutory transfers, while N2.607 billion is for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure.

Under the N1,993,891,830,842 recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, Education gets the highest allocation of N392,242,784,654; followed by Defence with N326.697 billion; just as Police formation and Commands got N303.822 billion; while the sum of N236.975 billion was allotted to the Health sector.

Further breakdown shows that the sum N69,423,427,479 is for Youth Development; N62,226,771,999 for Office of the National Security Adviser; as N58,293,428,177 is for Petroleum Resources; N48,299,630,506 is for Secretary to the Government of the Federation; N41,688,372,171 for Foreign Affairs; while N31,871,341,597 is for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The sums of N26,593,880,816 is for Science and Technology; N25,177,777,661 is for Works; N23,695,474,427 is for Information; N20,085,865,120 is for the Presidency; N18,118,392,153 is for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation; N15,602,574,341 is for Environment; N10,978,094,393 is for Trade and Investment while, N10,597,851,549 is for Communication Technology.

From the N13,965,664,092 approved for the eight Federal Executive bodies, the sums of N5,299,416,374 is for National Population Commission; N1,935,767,344 is for Code of Conduct Bureau; N473,656,088 is for Code of Conduct Tribunal; N2,214,028,373 is for Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission; N1,129,445,636 is for Federal Civil Service Commission; N740,477,185 is for Police Service Commission, while N2,172,873,092 is for Federal Character Commission.

From the N368,335,011,023 approved for  Service Wide Votes,  the sum of N20.270 billion is for Zaman Lafiya; N22 billion is for operations – Internal for the Armed Forces; N9.6 billion is for payment to Nigerian Army Quick Response Group including arrears; N5 billion is for payment of outsourced services; N2.3 billion is for entitlements of former Presidents/Heads of State and Vice Presidents/Chiefs of General Staff; N5.5 billion is for Employees Compensation Act – Employees Compensation Fund; N17.5 billion is for General Election logistic support; N17,397,993,277 is for Contingency; N6 billion is for country’s contribution to West African Examination Council (WAEC); N4.5 billion is for assessed contribution to African Union and others; N5 billion is for margin for increases in costs; N11 billion is for external financial obligations; N3,099,600,000 is for recurrent adjustment; N38,987,017,746 is for public service wage adjustment for MDAs (including arrears of promotion and salary increases) while N11.755 billion is for improved remuneration package for Nigerian Police.

The sum of N60,251,158,887 is for payment into the redemption fund (15 per cent of total personnel cost); N18 billion is for arrears of 33 percent increase in pension rates; N3.750 billion for arrears of police death benefits (2004-2010); N14,690,036,516 for Group Life Insurance for all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA), including Department of State Security (DSS); N1 billion for Armed Forces enhanced retirement benefits of Commodores and above; N2.995 billion for severance benefits of Delta Steel Company/Pension pay-off; N3,544,110,811, for National Health Insurance Scheme (Military retirees); while the sum of N36 million is for administration and monitoring of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) Group Life.

The controversial Presidential Amnesty Programme had the total sum of N63,281,093,786; with the stipends and allowances of 30,000 Niger Delta ex-militants set to gulp N23.625 billion; N5,502,447,783 is for Presidential amnesty operational cost; N34,153,646,003 is for reintegration of transformed ex-militants, while zero allocation is for reinsertion/transition safety allowances for 3,642 ex-militants (phase 3).

The report further indicated that the sum of N498,428,999,699 was set aside for capital expenditure of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in addition to the sum of N144.420 billion as capital expenditure in statutory transfers.

From the total sum of N953.62 billion approved for debt servicing, the sum of N894.610 billion is for domestic debt, while N59.010 is for foreign debts.

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