The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has stated that it is a violation of constitutional oath for the National Assembly to increase their own budget when Nigerians are living in poverty following the removal of fuel subsidy.
SERAP urged the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas to drop the alleged plan to spend the whopping sum of N40bn on 465 exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials, and N70bn as ‘palliatives’ for new members.
It urged Akpabio and Abbas repeal the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act to reduce the budget for the National Assembly by N110bn to reflect the current economic realities in the country and address the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy on the over 137 million poor Nigerians.
It also urged them to request President Bola Tinubu to present a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, to redirect the N110 billion to address the situation of the over 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, for the approval of the National Assembly.
In a letter dated 15 July 2023 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation slammed the national assembly leadership for allegedly planning to spend N40bn on 465 exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials, and N70bn as ‘palliatives’ for new members.
SERAP said the proposed plan by national assembly leadership is a fundamental breach of the duties for lawmakers to arbitrarily increase their own budget and to use the budget as a tool to satisfy their lifestyle.
The letter read in part: “It is a grave violation of the public trust and constitutional oath of office for members of the National Assembly to unjustifiably increase their own budget at a time when over 137 million poor Nigerians are living in extreme poverty exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidy.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and the National Assembly to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Rather than exercising their constitutional and oversight functions to pursue the public interest by considering bills to improve the conditions of the over 137 million poor Nigerians who are facing the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy, the lawmakers seem to be looking after themselves.”
“According to reports, no fewer than 107 units of the 2023 model of the Toyota Landcruiser and 358 units of the 2023 model of Toyota Prado would be bought for the use of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively.
“The planned purchase is different from the official bulletproof vehicles expected to be purchased for the four presiding officers of the National Assembly.
“The proposed spending of N110 billion by members of the National Assembly is apparently on top of the N281 billion already provided for the lawmakers in the 2023 National Assembly budget. The proposed spending is also different from the N30.17 billion budgeted for the ‘inauguration expenses’ for new members.
“SERAP is concerned that the budget for the National Assembly may further be increased as members are reportedly demanding an upward review of their salaries and allowances purportedly to offset the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy.”