Jumbo Pay: Senators vehemently reject pay cut

bukola saraki

The consideration of the report of the Senate ad-hoc committee on the review of the finances of the Senate was yesterday aborted over sharp disagreement by Senators.

Though the consideration of the controversial report was listed in the Order Paper, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, announced after over two hour closed session that the Senate resolved to step down the report for further consultation.

The Senate President specifically said that the upper chamber in closed session deliberated on the issue of the finances of the Senate and resolved to step it down for additional input.

He added that “the report is hereby stepped down for further consultations.

Saraki constituted the ad-hoc committee headed by Senator James Manager (Delta South) following sustained out cry over alleged outrageous pay package being received by Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

What the Senators and House members earn, especially their allowances and the secrecy surrounding the pay package of the lawmakers, have been serious issue of debate and some time outright condemnation by some Nigerians.

The constituency allowance of National Assembly members is domicile in Presidency, the basic salary of a Senator is about N168,000 while the major area of concern to some Nigerians is other allowances including wardrobe, car, housing, furniture, electricity and travelling allowances.

These other allowances are lumped together and referred to as quarterly allowance which insiders say is over N40 million per quarter.

Insiders said that the source of the disagreement at the closed session was that some Senators were not totally convinced of the need for pay cut even though the ad-hoc committee recommended pay reduction.

Findings showed that the ad-hoc committee recommended further reduction in the budget of the National Assembly.

The budget was reduced from N150 billion annual budget to N120 billion during Senator David Mark Senate Presidency.

The report was also said to have recommended that the finances of the upper chamber should be made more transparent in such a way that interested parties could have access to it.

Chairman, Senate ad-hoc committee on Information and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye at a media briefing reiterated what Saraki said.

Melaye however emphasized that the Senate is prepared to make sacrifices in line with the economic realities of the country.

Melaye said, “The Senate today (yesterday) in closed session discussed the report of the ad-hoc committee on the finances of the Senate. After due deliberation, we came to the conclusion that since the budget of the Senate is not independent of the budget of the entire National Assembly, we resolved that we should consult with the House of Representatives and interface with the House so that we can be on the same page with the House.”

Melaye listed National Institute for Legislative Studies, National Assembly Service Commission as other bodies that share in the budget of the National Assembly.

Insisting that the Senate is ready to make sacrifice, Melaye said that the reduction of the annual budget of the National Assembly from N150 billion to N120 billion was part of the sacrifice.

Melaye also said that he is not aware of the reported cash crunch in the National Assembly.

Also speaking on the issue, the Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ighoyota Amori, also said that there was need for further consultation on the issue of the finances of the National Assembly since Senate cannot do it alone.

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