Remunerations: Ezekwesili challenges NASS to public debate

FORMER Minister of Education, Dr (Mrs) Oby Ezekwesili said on Wednesday  that she is standing by her claims that N1 trillion has been spent on the National Assembly between 2005 and 2013.
The former minister had attracted the ire of the National Assembly when she called for part time legislature owing to what she called the huge funds being devoted to running it.
Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba and members of the House of Representatives had taken offence at the claims, with Ndoma-Egba insisting that the former minister was guilty of sensationalism.
But in a statement on Wednesday, the former minister said that she was challenging the National Assembly to a public debate on the matter.
She said: “I wish to state with absolute respect for our lawmakers and our institution that it will be more valuable and enriching for our democracy if instead of the abusive language of their recent reaction, the NASS immediately offered me and the rest of the Nigerian public, the opportunity of a Public Hearing on their Budgetary Allocation and the very relevant issue of their remuneration. Doing so would be consistent with global practice across countries of the world where emphasis is on tenets of Open Budget to enable citizens to track to the disaggregated level all use of public resources across every arm and level of government. In the United States for example anyone can find the US House of Representatives Statement of payment to each member of the House of Representative on the website -”
She also declared that rather than appraise her comprehensive lecture, the National Assembly chose to haul abuses at her.
She also gave details of the budgetary allocations to the National Assembly in the last eight years, which confirmed that N1 trillion has been spent on the legislature since 2005.
The Minister further submitted: “As part of the aspect of my presentation that touched on management of Public Finance, I provided eight years data on budgetary allocations or transfers to the National Assembly. The data in question is publicly available information from the Ministry of Finance which reveals that the allocations to the National Assembly known as Statutory Transfers between 2005 and 2013 were approximately One Trillion Naira as follows: 2005, N54.79 billion; 2006, N54.79 billion; 2007, N66.4 billion; 2008, N114.39 billion; 2009, N158.92 billion; 2010, N150 billion; 2011, N150 billion; 2012, N150 billion; 2013, N150 billion
“I also provided information available in a recent global comparison of legislators’ remuneration across the world recently publishedby the United Kingdom based The Economistmagazine. I stated that the report alleged that Nigerian federal legislators with a basic salary of $189,500 per annum (N30.6m) were the highest paid lawmakers in the world.”
She insisted that an institution like the National Assembly needed to encourage and appreciate dissenting views and promote debate.

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