Kaduna State does not have a security vote order than the one disclosed, Governor Nasir El-Rufai said in response to the House of Representatives.
Mr. El-Rufai also said it is hard to come to grips with the reality of the Nigerian parliament’s disregard for transparency. He insisted that the lawmakers should open the details of their budget to the public.
“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,” Mr. El-Rufai said on Thursday, barely 48 hours after he was tackled by the House of Representatives.
Since last week, Mr. El-Rufai and the federal legislature have been sparring, after the governor said the National Assembly, “especially the Senate”, was viewed as being opposed to the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption.
To change that narrative and convince Nigerians on its commitment to the anti-graft war, Mr. El-Rufai challenged the National Assembly to disclose details of its budget which have not been known to the public for seven years.
Then, in counter challenge, Speaker Yakubu Dogara tasked the Kaduna Governor on disclosure of his security vote and utilisation of statutory funds meant for local government areas.
In his reaction, Mr. El-Rufai released details of his state’s security budget and basic salary slip on Monday, but there was silence on what happens to the funds the local governments jointly manage with the state government.
Barely 24 hours afterwards, Mr. Dogara too published his basic salary slip but refused to accept the #OpenNass challenge. He went ahead to accuse Mr. El-Rufai of deliberate mischief and propaganda, and effort to undermine the legislature, while also pointing that the Governor disclosed Kaduna security budget, instead of his own security vote.
But in the latest turn Thursday evening, Mr. El-Ruai said Kaduna State does not have separate allocation for Governor’s security vote, apart from the state’s security budget published on Monday.
“What was presented represents the only security vote for the entire government.,” said the governor, through his spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan. “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.”
The governor also said he does not tamper with Kaduna local governments’ funds, but rather the state government assists the councils financially.
Then, he blasted the federal legislature for how it secretly handles it budget.
“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’.
He expressed doubt over the amount the Speaker disclosed as his monthly pay, a little over N400 thousand, taking similar position as suspended lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
Further restating the call that National Assembly disclose details of its budget, the governor said: “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.”