The Nigerian Senate, the arm of government that makes laws, ended its 8th session (2015 – 2019) earlier this week. Led by Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, senators who won’t be continuing their tenure said their goodbyes. Let’s take a look at what happened during the past 4 years in the Senate.
Transparent Budgets: In 2017, the Senate began publishing National Assembly budget for the public to see for the first time since 2010.
Budget public hearing: Nigerians, represented by interest groups, were for the first time given the opportunity of contributing to the national budget before passage.
Most Bills Passed: As of May 2019, the Senate had passed 293 bills, more than double what the 7th Senate passed —128 bills; the 6th passed 72 bills.
Passed the Not-too-young-to-run bill: The law reduces the age limit for Nigerians seeking the office of president from 40 to 35; governorship from 35 to 30.
Not so transparent Budgets: Even though the National Assembly made public the budget of the parliament in three consecutive years, the releases did not reveal the break down of many figures.
Delay in passing national budget: Every year there was a delay in approving the national budget, It often took about 4 months before the budget could be approved.
Budget padding: For the four years, the National Assembly was accused of inserting extra costs into budgets. In 2018, Lawmakers introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
Biased allocations: Each year, the National Assembly gets up to N100 billion from the national budget to execute constituency projects. Over the years, some lawmakers get more than others. How this is allocated, isn’t clear and is highly subjective.