In response to the National House of Representatives, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State said that his state does not have a security vote other than the one disclosed.
El-Rufai who insisted that the lawmakers should make details of their budget public said; “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 (sic) urged to do so.”
The governor had challenged the lawmakers who he accused of opposing President Buhari’s fight against corruption to make public its budget which in seven (7) years had not been disclosed publicly.
In a response to the governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, tasked the governor to disclose his security vote and the utilization of statutory funds meant for local governments.
The governor released details of the state security budget and his basic salary slip, but did not release any detail about the funds meant for local governments.
Following the release of the details by the governor, Mr. Dogara too published his basic salary pay-slip but did not reveal the National Assembly’s budget, instead he accused the governor of deliberate mischief and propaganda and an effort to undermine the legislature, saying that the governor should public the state’s security budget and not his own security vote.
El-Rufai however noted that Kaduna State doesn’t have another separate security allocation apart from the security budget he had published earlier.
“What was presented represents the only security vote for the entire government,” his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, said on behalf of the governor.
“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.”
Regarding the local government funds, El-Rufai noted that he does not tamper with it, but rather the Kaduna State Government assists the councils financially.
“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’.
“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 recognised 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.”