The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, says the National Assembly is grappling with constraints in funding needed to carry out its statutory functions, as he punctured widespread perception that the federal legislature is being over funded.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, declared that adequate funding remained the major challenge facing the National Assembly.
He stated this while paying a working visit to the Chairman and members of the National Assembly Service Commission, NASC, at their temporary office located in Utako, Abuja on Wednesday.
The Senate President, who spoke while responding to the request of the Chairman of the Commission, Adamu Fika, to have a permanent office of the Commission inside the National Assembly complex, pledged the support of the leadership towards the project.
Saraki said: “One of the things that I see here today is the issue of budgetary constraints. However, the impression around the country is often that the National Assembly has too much money. But we have seen the challenges of the last few years.
“As we work through the number of bills passed, the public hearings held, and the number of ad-hoc committees that have been established — we know the challenges of not being able to fund some of our activities.
“So far, I am happy to report that despite these constraints, the 8th Senate has been able to surpass all previous Senates in the number of Bills that we have passed in 2-years — despite the funding gaps.
“We know that as we continue over time, people will begin to have more confidence in the National Assembly. However, right now, the challenges that we have are the issue of perception, and the issue of funding. We need to work hard to change this.”
The Chairman of the National Assembly continued that it has not been easy for Nigerians to appreciate the roles played by the legislature as an arm of government because it is the youngest of the three arms of government.
According to him, “Therefore, we all have a lot of work in trying to make the people appreciate the role of the legislature in our democracy.
“This has not been easy, this is why I am sure that working with the Commission, we can work towards this together so that we can improve the image of the National Assembly.”
While commending Saraki for being the first President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly to visited the office of the commission, the NASC chairman lamented that the commission still operates from a rented apartment with the attendant cost.
Fika urged the leadership of the National Assembly to come to the aide of the commission by supporting it to build a befitting permanent office within the National Assembly complex.