Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i yesterday fired back at the House of Representatives and its Speaker Yakubu Dogara over the National Assembly budget controversy.
The governor’s spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan, on Thursday said the state’s budget specified what was voted to security agencies and nothing was given to the governor.
Aruwan noted that the Kaduna’s security funding is not operated like the national assembly where everything is “opaque”.
Faulting the legislators ‘unnecessary distraction’s’ response to a simple request for a transparent National Assembly budget, el-Rufa’i picked holes in Dogara’s pay slip.
Mr. el-Rufa’i made the disclosure while reacting to a statement by spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, that what el-Rufa’i published was the security budget of Kaduna and not his security votes.
In a statement by his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, el-Rufa’i said: “The figures in the pay slips presented for the Honorable Speaker are in stark contrast to the declaration by The Economist regarding the earnings of NASS members. One of the claims cannot be right.”
Insisting that he has no security vote, the governor said: “The Kaduna State Government has presented details of its security budget. What was presented represents the only security vote for the entire government. As the figures show, there is no security vote for the Governor of Kaduna State.
“This may be a shock to those used to the notion of security votes as barely disguised slush funds, but we do not operate such a system in Kaduna.
Our budgets specify what is voted as assistance to security agencies, and its expenditure is properly recorded and accounted for. These are not monies given to or spent by the governor.
“If the leaders of the NASS have security votes allocated to or personally collected by them, they might wish to disclose such.
“Our security spending does not operate like the NASS system of sharing public funds in such an opaque fashion that even NASS members do not know how their entire budget is broken down or what the leadership gets as its ‘running costs’.
“The House of Representatives has responded with predictable tetchiness to a simple and clear demand that details of the National Assembly budget be made public. “It is inconceivable that an important institution, vested by the Constitution with representation, lawmaking and oversight powers, has for at least seven years ignored the imperative to set an example of transparency, despite being severally urged to do so.
“Despite the rush to personal attacks on a matter of public policy, we cannot allow the enthronement of the republic of distraction. It is important that everyone who is interested in protecting and advancing democratic discourse should stay focused on the issue.
“It is strange that persons entrusted with high office will justify their abdication of the responsibility to be transparent in such cavalier fashion. We don’t believe that most of our esteemed legislators will construe a demand for transparency as aimed at undermining the National Assembly.
“However, notwithstanding the intemperate response of the spokesman of the House of Representatives, the demand that the NASS budget be made public will not go away. It is not personal, and there is a strong civic constituency that is demanding it. The sooner all of us in public life recognized that the game has changed, and that segments of civil society and indeed everyday citizens of Nigeria, are much more aware, astute and advanced than the state of our politics, the better for our democratic health.”