Former Senate President, Senator David Mark, monday debunked the allegation of secrecy in the affairs of the National Assembly, saying parliamentary practices and procedures dictate open operations.
According to a statement by his Media Assistant, Paul Mumeh, Mark was reacting to insinuations in some quarters that the National Assembly budgets and salaries are shrouded in secrecy, saying such allegation was borne out of deliberate mischief, blackmail or outright ignorance.
“How can anyone claim that the National Assembly budget is secret? Or that our earnings are secret? The National Assembly budget is part and parcel of the federal budget. It is not a separate document. If anybody is in doubt, he or she should get a copy of the National budget and clarify. It is a public document.
“Every time you hear people talk about National Assembly budget as if it is independent of the federal budget. For heaven’s sake, the National Assembly budget is an open document. It is a public document. Unless you are saying you have never seen the national budget.
“The National Assembly budget is in the open. Anybody can access it. We don’t fix our salaries. Appropriate federal government agencies do. What we earn is open. I think we should put an end to this cheap blackmail.
“It is sad and ridiculous when people give impression that the National Assembly budget has continued to be increased annually. This is not correct. It is unwarranted and needless accusation.
“I make bold to say that the National Assembly under my leadership was bold, courageous, steadfast and truly patriotic. We stood on the side of the people, the truth, transparency and above all, in the interest of the nation.
“We were the first to make a cut in our 2015 budget. People should appreciate what we are doing. We tightened our belts more than any other ministry or parastatal today. I can put my hand on my chest without fear of contradiction to say we make a lot of sacrifices in our budgetary systems.
“People should not play politics with serious national issues like appropriations. With every sense of responsibility, in 2008, the National Assembly under my leadership was the first arm of government to return the sum of N7 billion naira unspent fund to the national treasury during late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration. Some people would have done otherwise.
“I remain a patriotic and committed pan- Nigerian ever determined to do my utmost best to improve the lots of my country men and women,” Mark said.