SERAP Urges National Assembly to Drop Lavish Spending Plan



SERAP – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Senate President, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Tajudeen Abbas, to abandon their controversial plan to spend N40 billion on 465 luxurious and bulletproof cars for members and officials, along with N70 billion as ‘palliatives’ for new members.

In a letter dated July 15, 2023, signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization urged them to repeal the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act, reducing the National Assembly’s budget by N110 billion to reflect the current economic realities in the country. SERAP emphasized the need to address the impact of fuel subsidy removal on the over 137 million poor Nigerians.

SERAP also appealed to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to request President Bola Tinubu to present a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, redirecting the N110 billion to address the dire situation of over 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria for the National Assembly’s approval.

Reports indicate that while N70 billion is allocated as a ‘support allowance’ for 306 new lawmakers, only N500 billion worth of palliatives is designated for 12 million impoverished Nigerians. Additionally, N40 billion is set aside for the purchase of 465 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and bulletproof cars for members and officials.

SERAP emphasized that this action is a grave violation of the public trust and a breach of the constitutional oath of office by members of the National Assembly. The organization highlighted that lawmakers should not be increasing their own budget but instead pursuing bills to improve the conditions of the over 137 million poor Nigerians affected by fuel subsidy removal.

The proposed spending of N110 billion by members of the National Assembly is separate from the N281 billion already allocated to them in the 2023 National Assembly budget. It is also distinct from the N30.17 billion budgeted for ‘inauguration expenses’ for new members.

SERAP expressed concern that the National Assembly’s budget may further increase as members allegedly demand an upward review of their salaries and allowances to offset the impact of fuel subsidy removal.

The Nigerian Constitution emphasizes the government’s primary purpose to ensure the security and welfare of the people. The National Assembly is obligated to harness the nation’s resources, promote national prosperity, and secure the welfare, freedom, and happiness of every citizen.

Furthermore, government policies should strive to provide equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels and eradicate illiteracy, as stated in the Constitution and the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act. The proposed spending of N110 billion by the National Assembly violates these constitutional provisions and international human rights obligations.

SERAP emphasized that Nigerians have the right to expect honest and faithful performance from their public officials, including lawmakers, who have a fiduciary duty to the general citizenry. Cutting the N110 billion from the National Assembly’s budget aligns with their constitutional oath of office, promoting efficient, honest, and legal spending of public funds.

The issue of out-of-school children has had devastating effects on millions of children, their families, and communities. Redirecting the proposed N110 billion spending to address the situation of over 20 million out-of-school children would improve access to quality education for Nigerian children.

Education is both a human right and a means for individuals to lift themselves out of poverty and fully participate in their communities. International law requires states to progressively implement socio-economic rights, including the right to quality education. Misallocation of resources that undermines the right to education can be considered a human rights violation.

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