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SERAP wants NASS to cut cost

Tuesday, 16 May 2017
Olusola Saraki, Senate President

By Toye Faleye

In a bid to cut down the National Assembly wasteful spending The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo requesting him “to put pressure on the leadership of the National Assembly to cut the proposed apparently wasteful and unnecessary spending on the number of expensive official vehicles, legislative aides, travels and transportation, souvenirs, and photocopiers.”

The organization urged Osinbajo to “Assent to the budget only if it truly reflects national development priorities, and not serve as a tool to satisfy the lifestyle of our lawmakers.”

It said to allow public funds to be spent as proposed by the National Assembly “would disproportionately affect the socially and economically vulnerable and push them deeper into poverty and deprivation.”

In the letter dated 15 May 2017 and signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said, “In a country where many of our general hospitals cannot provide emergency treatment, and at a time public funds are needed to improve these facilities, it is retrogressive to spend these funds to provide exotic cars for our lawmakers or fund needless travels. Such funds ought to be meaningfully spent to provide clean water, build classrooms, provide materials, train teachers and pay outstanding workers’ salaries.”

SERAP in the letter copied to Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights added, “the more public funds that are spent to buy expensive vehicles for our lawmakers rather than servicing the new vehicles bought last year the less resources that will be available to make sure that Nigerians enjoy the right to an adequate standard of living and the rights to health, housing, food and education.”

The letter reads in part: “When read together, the obligations under the Covenant to take steps to achieve economic and social rights progressively according to the country’s national resources implicitly forbid spending on such apparently wasteful projects. We are concerned that of the N125 billion proposed by the National Assembly in the 2017 budget, N6.4bn is to purchase official vehicles; N1.6bn to insure the vehicles; N777m to buy photocopiers; N55.623m to buy souvenirs; N807m to fuel generators; N11bn for travels and transportation; N9bn to pay legislative aides, and N750m for medical supplies.”

“SERAP believes that the presidency now has the chance to show that the 2017 budget would not prioritise wasteful spending by the National Assembly over and above urgent national development priorities, and the need to improve Nigerians’ access to basic necessities such as interrupted electricity supply, quality education, affordable healthcare, clean water, good roads, as well as pay outstanding workers’ salaries across the country.

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