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As the on-going budget defence by Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of the Federal Government enters a critical stage, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have kept mum on the N115 billion budget breakdown of both Chambers of the National Assembly.
Saraki and Dogara who declared a three-day National Budget Public Hearing, organised by the Joint Committee on Appropriations, rebuffed public out cries and criticisms, which have greeted the duo’s refusal to make public the details of the Parliament’s budget.
According to a document submitted to the National Assembly by the Citizens Wealth Platform, CWP, detailing the breakdown of the 2017 budget, the National Assembly 2017 budget was retained at N115 billion, despite series of promises by top government functionaries, including Lawmakers, to cut costs.
The CWP in the document, urged the leadership of the National Assembly, to reduce the N115 billion budget by N5 billion. It said this should be done in the spirit of the austere times in the country. 

“The total vote of N115 billion, should be reduced to N110 billion in the spirit of the austere times, and to demonstrate solidarity with the Nigerian people who are suffering and going through untold hardship,” the group pleaded in the document submitted to both the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The plea by the group is coming exactly three weeks after the immediate past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, condemned the secrecy associated with the budget of the Senate.
He noted, that Lawmakers were not privy to the contents of Senate budget, and had called on Saraki, who doubles as Chairman of the National Assembly, to make it public.
Ndume had said: “We are here to pass the budget without seeing the details. This is a government of change, and this must change. The details of the budget report should be considered holistically. Last year, we had several issues with the budget. In fact to some extent, it was very embarrassing.
“Some of us do not know what is in the budget, because the details of the budget have never been provided, and this should be done this year. The budget of the Senate is not known to Senators. It should be known this year, and this is very important, because we cannot be taking blames, or hold credit for what we do not know.”
The Senate President, Saraki, had in 2015, shortly after he was elected, promised to make details of the National Assembly budget public. In several other fora, he re-echoed the same promise.
Senator Saraki has however, not fulfilled his promise, despite the mounting pressure from civil society organisations, and other interest groups, who have often argued that the National Assembly budget is shrouded in secrecy.

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