The outgoing Senate President, David Mark, on Monday disagreed on the need for National Assembly to cut its budget in line with the austerity measures of government towards the nation’s dwindling economy.
Senator David Mark, who spoke at a retreat organised for the Peoples Democratic Party National Assembly members-elect in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, was responding to an earlier call made by former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu that lawmakers –elect should make their monthly salary public and cut their budget.
Ribadu said that Nigerians would not support the PDP if they (Nigerians) did not know what was earmarked for the National Assembly and how much a senator or a House of Representatives member earns.
The PDP’s governorship candidate in Adamawa State in the last election noted that patriotism and quality contributions by members of the PDP in the National Assembly would go a long way in reinventing and preparing the party for a successful comeback in future elections.
He said, “If Nigerians do not know how much is earmarked for the National Assembly or how much money a senator earns, they will not support you. We must understand the pulse or the mood of the nation.
The first step, therefore, is to open up the National Assembly by ensuring transparency. Public office is what it is; public. Also, at this critical time of austerity, be champions by slashing your own budget.
He also reminded them that Senator-elect, Ben Bruce of the PDP had already spoken about it.
However, Ribadu’s call didn’t go down well with many of the lawmakers and governors present at the retreat as his call was followed with side talks from them.
But Senator Mark, openly showed his dissatisfaction with Ribadu’s submission, wondered why “every time, people will talk about National Assembly budget.”
He explained that the budget of the Assembly had always been in public domain, the outgoing President of the upper legislative chamber argued that National Assembly members had always made sacrifices in line with the nation’s economic situation.
“Every time, people will talk about National Assembly budget; for Heaven’s sake, unless you would say you have never seen the national budget, it is a public document. The National Assembly budget is there with every other budget,” he stated in an angry tone.
“ people should appreciate what we are doing and not to come and give an impression that our budget is bloated while every other person had made a cut” He said, adding that the National Assembly members were the first to make a cut in 2015 budget,
He stated further, “We are trying our best more than any ministry today. I can put my hand on my chest without fear of contradiction at all and say we made a lot of sacrifices in our budgeting system.
“Our budget is open; what we earn as National Assembly members is open. If anybody wants to receive his salary and donate it, he is free to do so. He does not need to consult us. I think we should not play politics with what is a very serious issue. Our budget is in the open and everybody can see it.”
David Mark also urged the lawmakers to subject individual interest for the party’s interest by voting in one accord in the election of principal officers of National Assembly. “We must take our destinies in our hands. We must be ready to provide credible, vibrant, determined and focused opposition to the party in power in a manner that would guarantee development and good governance.
He, however decried the spate of defections from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress after the elections and appealed to those remaining to be steadfast with the ideology of the party.
The PDP retreat was attended by top party leaders, Lawmakers-elect and state Governors.