Not less than N1.154tn was appropriated for the National Assembly from 2005 to 2014 out of the country’s total budget of N35.67tn during the period.

This was contained in a presentation by the Director-General of the National Legislative Institute, Dr. Ladi Hamalai, during a media parley in Abuja on Tuesday.

Hamalai stated that $16,000 basic salary of the Nigeria’s parliamentarian was the lowest when compared to $174,000 in the United States; $105,998 in the United Kingdom; $56,400 in South Africa and $18,000 in Benin.

“However, the $208,000 total allowance received by a parliamentarian in Nigeria is higher than what his colleague in South Africa, with $9,680 gets.

“Also, total compensation for a parliamentarian in Nigeria is the highest compared to what is paid in US; UK, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Benin.

“While the total compensation for a Nigerian parliamentarian is $224,000, $174,000 is paid in US; $66,080 in South Africa; $33,120 in Ghana and $157,080 in Kenya.”

The National Assembly’s total budget between 2005 and 2014 represented 3.23 per cent of the national budget.

The director-general, who noted that there were a lot of misconceptions about the National Assembly, said traditional role of the legislature included oversight, law making and amendment as well as representation.

In the presentation titled, “The National Assembly Context,” she listed common misconceptions about the National Assembly to include poor performance, jumbo salaries and allowances, lack of integrity, indiscipline as well as corruption and insensitivity.

Hamalai stated, “Misperceptions and lack of proper projection of the work of the National Assembly in the public domain is a major issue. We have been trying our best, but we need a lot of resources to go out there in full force to project some of these facts and figures.

“We do not believe in the institute that we should sermonise. What are the facts? Let people look at the facts and verify the facts themselves and make up their minds. That is our approach. We have not been out there fully because of resource constraint.”

According to the director-general out of the national budget of N1.79tn in 2005, the National Assembly got N55.43bn.

In 2006, N54.78bn was appropriated for the National Assembly out of N1.89tn national budget; N70.748bn out of N2.47tn in 2007; N112bn out of N2.748tn in 2008; N106bn out of N3.10tn in 2009 and N154bn out of N4.60tn in 2010.

In 2011, the National Assembly got a budget of N150bn out of N4.48tn national budget; N150bn out of N4.87tn in 2012; N150bn out of N4.98tn in 2013 and N150bn out of N4.69tn in 2014.

She explained that in relative terms, the budget allocation to National Assembly declined from 4.1 per cent of the total national budget in 2008 to 3.01 per cent in the 2013 fiscal year.

Hamalai said that recurrent budget accounted for nearly 90 per cent of the funds allocated to the National Assembly.

She stated, “This is understandable in that most of the assembly’s functions require recurrent funding and the Assembly, unlike the executive arm of government, is not involved in the execution of major capital projects.

“In line with this, the overhead component accounts for the lion’s share of the recurrent budget.”

On the challenges facing the parliaments in African countries, Hamalai said there was the dearth of aides with high-level technical capacity in many African parliaments including Nigeria.

“This implies that some legislators would not have the benefit of good briefs from their aides on issues to be debated in the legislatures,” Hamalai stated.

The director-general put the total number of staff in Nigeria’s National Assembly at 3,373.

According to her, the number of personal aides per member in Nigeria is five; in the US, 18; one in South Africa; none in Ghana and Benin.

She said the committee’s members of staff in the US were 2,492; 90 in South Africa; 25 in Benin and 300 in Nigeria.

Hamalai stated that research members of staff in the US were 4,479; 50 each in Nigeria and South Africa; seven in Ghana; 25 in Kenya and 20 in Benin.

She said that oversight instruments in the National Assembly included receiving briefs from ministries departments and agencies; visiting MDAs; project inspection; engagement with appropriation bill/ budgetary function and public/investigative hearing.

According to the director-general, during the 2008/2009 and 2012/2013 sessions, almost every committee was engaged in the consideration of the annual budget estimates.

She added, “Other commonly applied instruments are visits to MDAs, project inspection, interactive meetings/sessions, and briefs sent from the MDAs.

“However, investigative hearing and public petitions were the most rarely used instruments by both Houses. The latter is the major instrument of the committee on ethics, code of conduct and public petitions.”

Hamalai said that there was the need to correct the misconceptions about the National Assembly and properly project its work.

She stated, , “If you look at the implication of bad press, it can be so severe on the image of all arms of government that are supposed to be fulcrums of democracy. If we remove the National Assembly, there is no democracy.”

According to her, the people must work with the National Assembly to check the executive excesses. She said that because of the misperceptions about the lawmakers, “the public will focus on N120bn that comes to the National Assembly. They do not look at the N4tn that is remaining in the executive. What do they do with it? Nobody is interested in that.”