Ezekwesili’s allegation, pure sensationalism - Senate

LEADER of the Senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has described as untrue and pure sensationalism, the allegation that over one trillion naira had been spent on National Assembly members in the last eight years.
This was as Senator Kabiru Marafa, from Zamfara State, threw the challenge that evidence of such a claim should be made public.
A former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, on Monday, reportedly disclosed that Nigeria had spent the amount on the federal lawmakers within the period.
“Since 2005, the National Assembly members alone have been allocated N1tr”, she said, while also lamenting that “82 per cent of Nigeria’s budgetary cost goes for recurrent expenditure.”
She had further claimed that “a research conducted in the United Kingdom identified Nigerian legislators as being the highest paid in the world.”
The former education minister has, however, continued to draw flaks from members of the National Assembly, the latest being from Senators Ndoma-Egba and Marafa.
Ndoma-Egba told Nigerian Tribune that, “It is sheer sensationalism to suggest that under three per cent of the budget is the problem of the nation.”
Contrary to Ezekwesili’s assertion, he said it was easy to work out and confirm what had been the allocations to the National Assembly from the national budgets since 1999.
“Our current annual budget is N150 billion, out of a national budget of 5 trillion naira. This is under three per cent of the national budget.
“And it consists of capital, recurrent, salaries of members, its bureaucracy, aides, the National Assembly Service Commission, National Legislative Institute, subscriptions to international parliamentary bodies etc,” he said.
The Senate Leader also said the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) recently published the salaries of the lawmakers and those of other public office holders which showed a parity.
“It is sheer sensationalism to suggest that under three per cent is the problem of the nation, a budget that is a fraction of an opaque subsidy or pensions regime,” he said.
In his own reaction, Senator Kabiru Marafa told Nigerian Tribune that it was easier to make an allegation than to substantiate, challenging her to provide detailed evidence to substantiate her claim.
“But she should also be kind enough to tell Nigerians how much was spent on her as minister of education by the ministry and its various parastatals, especially the Nigerian Teachers Institute (NTI), ETF and UBE.
“It is very easy to dump all sorts of rubbish at the doorstep of National Assembly members because familiarity is said to breed contempt. But it is quite another thing to substantiate it.
“A couple of weeks ago, a national daily (not Nigerian Tribune) claimed that senators are paid N35 million annual salary, according to documents from RMFAC in their possession.
“I said it is not true and I challenged them to prove it and that I, Senator Marafa, will resign. I am still waiting for them to do so.
“This type of revelations are very healthy for our democracy but I urge Nigerians to task whoever makes such claims to produce evidence and his own level of complicity.
“Otherwise, he or she should, at least, be called with his/her first name, Munafiki/Maqaryachi (meaning Hypocrite/Liar,” he said.

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