Before the inauguration of the new National Assembly, there had already been calls for transparency and reductions in funding for the lawmakers who rank among the world’s highest paid. Lawmakers in Nigeria earn around $160,000 annually based on current exchange rates- more than British lawmakers. While the lawmakers earn so much, regular Nigerians survive on the $90 monthly minimum wage.

In the United States, supplementary Congressional allowances make no provision for clothing and in the Britain, which was rocked by its own allowance scandal in 2009, clothing expenses are not listed among expenses members of parliament can claim for.

For Nigerians who went to polls and voted for a new government on the premise of its Change campaign, there is a real need to see significant evidence that, under President Buhari, excesses such as extravagant allowances are effectively cut out.

The campaign tagged #OpenNASS is led by BudgIT, a civil start-up and outraged Nigerians have taken to social media to vent. Nigerians can also draw inspiration from events in Kenya where citizens forced legislators to rethink increases in their pay with fierce protests in 2013.

The National Assembly is already infamous for its wage bill as well as a litany of allowances and it continues to receive immense funds that do not reflect the current financial reality of the nation.  Still in its early days, the National Assembly will have to make a bold decision on its expenses and while it appears that newly elected Senate President Bukola Saraki may be in support of fiscal transparency, many feel he must begin to show real intent on pushing the agenda for a prudent and transparent federal legislature.

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