THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – After meeting Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday, Semptember 21, 2017 to discuss issues relating to details of salaries and allowances of lawmakers, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) claims that the commitment to transparency and accountability which Saraki expresses with his words does not match with the actions the Senate is taking to improve transparency and accountability within the National Assembly (NASS).
According to report, this was disclosed in a statement by Timothy Adewale, the deputy director of SERAP, on Friday, Sepetember 22, 2017.
The statement said:
‘While we appreciate the expressed commitment by Saraki to transparency and accountability of the National Assembly, and the rare opportunity to dialogue with him, we remain deeply concerned that the leadership of the Senate has unfortunately not satisfactorily addressed the damaging allegations by Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), that a Nigerian Senator gets N29 million in monthly pay, and over N3 billion a year.’
The organisation argued in its statement that, ‘There is an apparent discrepancy in some areas between what Saraki said at the meeting and what the Senate is doing in practice to improve transparency of its operations and accountability of members. For example, the Senate President’s response to Sagay’s allegations was simply to refer SERAP to the National Assembly budget for 2017, which is available on its website. However, a careful study of the document shows that it contains only some general information and not specific details that respond directly to allegations raised by Sagay.’
It also explained that:
‘The meeting with Saraki raises more questions than it answers. The Senate budget on its website is incomplete. The absence of specific details on salaries and allowances of each senator not only makes analysis difficult, it also points to underlying weaknesses in monitoring and transparency mechanisms.
‘Without including some level of details, Nigerians may see the published National Assembly budget as nothing more than window-dressing. SERAP hopes that the leadership of the Senate doesn’t want this to be the case—and we certainly see no reason why it should be the case. As we have noted, improved transparency on the exact salaries and allowances of senators and indeed members of the House of Representatives is in the interests of all.
‘In SERAP’s view, rather than referring us to the seemingly incomplete National Assembly budget, the Senate President should have provided a line-by-line response to Sagay’s allegations. It’s important that the leadership of the Senate provides additional information that is lacking from the published budget if it is ever going to satisfactorily clear the air on the issues.’
SERAP insists that it is only through transparency that the Senate can regain the support of their constituents and the trust of the public, and contribute to ending the nation’s damaging reputation for corruption.