The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has faulted the planned distribution of N8,000 by the federal government to 12 million vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the biting effects of the removal of petroleum subsidy.
It also said there is a lack of sincerity of purpose in the allocation of N70bn for 469 legislators amounting to N24m each, while the more vulnerable public beneficiaries get N8,000 each, monthly.
Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, in Abuja in a statement, yesterday, said the monies should rather be channelled to infrastructure being financed by unfavourable loans.
“It is expected that the fiscal space created by the subsidy withdrawal must be provided for wider public goods and the resources saved could be reallocated to those groups most affected by the reform by adopting complementary measures.
“With 27% of the country’s average household budgets dedicated to fuel-related expenses (petrol-powered generators and vehicles and heavy reliance on the poor public transport system), reallocation of subsidy savings should be directed to fixing the energy and transport sectors as opposed to another round of jamboree in the name of succour.
“Loans are being desperately sought to fix and build roads and rail lines, so there are concerns that the new government is mis-prioritising the utilisation of sparse funds that may only end up lining few pockets,” he said.
Rafsanjani said the concerns raised by Nigerians about the palliative was genuine judging by the handling of palliative during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Microfinance Bank SME/Household loan and Anchor Borrower’s Programme, among others.
He also faulted the N70bn earmarked for the National Assembly to support the working conditions of new members.
“There is a seeming lack of clarity and sincerity of purpose behind this sharing formula and its illogical rationale as a further breakdown suggests that each of the 469 legislators gets about N24m each, while the more vulnerable public beneficiaries get N8,000 each monthly.
“The insensitivity behind this is alarming, particularly in light of the country’s growing and unsustainable debt profile. At this crucial time of post-COVID recovery when the increasing cost of governance underpinned by high personnel and overhead costs are weighing down on the federation purse,” Rafsanjani said.
N70bn not palliatives – Senate
The Senate has dismissed the claim that the appropriated N70bn for the National Assembly in the revised 2022 supplementary budget was a “gift” from the executive arm of government to the federal legislators.
The National Assembly on Thursday amended the N819.5 billion supplementary budget to make provision for N500 billion palliatives for Nigerians to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
In the amendment, N70 billion was also allocated to the National Assembly to support the “working condition” of new members.
The N70 billion has continued to draw public criticism amid the high cost of living.
But the Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, in a statement on Sunday, said the fund was not a palliative for lawmakers but would be managed by the National Assembly bureaucracy.
He said, “A visit to the suites, offices and the general structures of the National Assembly complex would reveal a yawning and the need for exigent attention. Many Senators had to bring their chairs, tables, and electronics and in many cases, do sundry repairs.
“The so much debated allocation will not be paid to any legislator. This will be managed by the National Assembly Bureaucracy. It’s pertinent to also note that the National Assembly complex does not house only the legislators. There are thousands of workers and service providers, whose working environment need a face-lift, and/with necessary tools.
“Since the Assembly Complex is not owned by legislators who are merely political birds of passage, such allocation cannot be termed by anyone as a palliative to the legislators.
“The alleged padding of the palliative Budget by the National Assembly only exists in the minds of those who are all out to discredit the 10th Assembly. There is nothing like padding as being alleged in some misinformed media outfits.”