National Assembly and the Burden of Debt: Matters Arising! - Ishola Adebayo

Aug. 26, 2016

The National Assembly management has said they are groaning over the harsh economic situation and weighed down by unbearable debt profile which has subjected them to serious suffering and almost pitched them against staff and contractors.

Contractors and suppliers are grumbling over the inability of the National Assembly management to liquidate the accumulated debts.

It was gathered that the situation has forced the management of the National Assembly to take cost cutting measures including the slashing down of salaries of legislative aides by about 70 percent. A source familiar with the workings of the National Assembly told newsmen that the management is now taking inventory of the debt stock.

The source said some of the debts were incurred through contracts that might not have been executed. “It is a yearly occurrence,” the source added.

“There are huge debts, no doubt. They’re still in the process of compiling,” said the source. One legislative aide said, “The situation is so worrisome that the new Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, has demanded for the comprehensive details of the debts profile.” Asked about the major contracts being awarded by the National Assembly, the source said they included office facilities, vehicles, and maintenance.

“You’ll be shocked if you know the monumental corruption taking place in the management of the National Assembly. They change office equipment every year on paper, but you don’t get to see anything.”

“You can imagine even the maintenance being carried out by Julius Berger at the time was done on credit. It was because of the way they were going about the whole thing that Berger backed out from the contract of maintaining the NASS complex.”

“There are a lot of things my brother. Some of them would raise fake vouchers just to divert the money. Somebody would say he has travelled to somewhere, whereas he was in his house.” “They also have ghost workers among the NASS staff, but because nobody probes them, people don’t get to know. With this kind of things, how do you expect the country to change?” said the source, who did not want to be named.

With several public outcries by active citizens for #OurNASS to #OpenNASS campaign, the National Assembly budget is still shrouded in secrecy despite repeated promises by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to make the details public.

The budget of the National Assembly that was ₦23.3B in 2003 went up to as much as ₦150B for four years (2010 to 2013) but was slashed to ₦120B in 2014 and ₦115B in 2015 and 2016.

It is unimaginable that the National Assembly is broke, owning lawmakers and contractors in spite of the ₦115B budgetary allocations in the current year with all the unofficial padding here and there, chairman of this committee here and there.

If the National Assembly management is really broke, then they should be strongly advised to start cutting their bogus allowances and begin to claim the 18,000 minimum wage standard, if majority of the people who elected the Senators and House of Representatives members to represent them are on 1-1- 0, 0-1-1 meal formula daily and can’t afford $1 per day or are being paid 18,000 wages and still being owed by their fellow public officers in the executive arm, why then the cry on the electorates?

Electorates did not elect the National Assembly members to become overnight billionaires but to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They are expected to sit for 181 days in a year. How effective and efficient are they on the bills and motion sponsorship which is their primary role at the red and green chambers respectively?

All of the 109 Senators and 360 Honourables should carry out a self assessment! Count the number of days they’ve spent since they were elected including the numbers of days on paid-recess and holidays, number of times they escorted the Senate President Bukola Saraki to CCB, the number of times they’ve engaged themselves in physical battles for leadership position, et al. In fact, NASS members should be paid pro rata simply…No work, No pay!!!