The sharp drop in Nigeria's revenue is now affecting the salaries of members of the National Assembly.
The drop is following the crude oil price slump at the international market and now, the National Assembly Service Commission which used to get N150 billion yearly, has revealed that they are cash-strapped and cannot pay salaries of legislators.
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A top management official of the commission told The Guardian: “Our account is in the red. We can’t even pay our staff salaries. In fact, I can confirm to you that we are yet to complete the payment of salaries of the Seventh Legislators that wound up their activities last June 9. We have to obtain loans from banks to be able to pay them. So nobody is talking about the allowances of this Eighth Assembly now. We don’t know how we are going to handle it.”
“I don’t know where the information came from that we are going to pay wardrobe allowance amounting to almost N9 billion.
“Whoever is peddling that rumour is really doing a disservice to the new presiding officers and members of the Eighth National Assembly who may unduly come under pressure from their constituents. I can assure you that nobody knows when the Eighth Assembly members are going to get any kobo here.
“In fact, our financial situation is compounded by the inability of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) to meet last Tuesday or yesterday as is normally the case, because even after the meeting, it takes more than two months before the Federal Government would source for money to its agencies. That is why you see that salaries of some agencies too are in arrears.
“What the Federal Government does after every FAAC is that it manages to settle the states and local government counterparts of the allocation while it begins to source for its share of the allocation which is just on paper.
“The implication of this is that even if FAAC meets today or next month, we don’t expect to get our own share of the allocation released to us immediately until the next two months except President Muhammadu Buhari is going to reverse the trend.”
“What is most disturbing to us as management at this time is how to even arrange for residential and office accommodation for the new presiding officers as the residences of both the Speaker and the Senate President were sold to former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole and immediate past Senate President, David Mark.”
Meanwhile, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has set up a committee to review allowances of public officers in the light of the current revenue drop.
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An official of RMAFC who disputed the recent $9 billion wardrobe allowance story that flooded the media recently said : “It is ridiculous because we are yet to conclude our assignment on the review, so nobody can be talking of allowances now. As far as we are concerned, it’s speculative, non-realistic and at best the imagination of those behind the rumours. We would soon come out with a position on the reviewed allowance.”
In a related development, the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has also disputed the N9 billion wardrobe allowance story, saying RMAFC is still reviewing the allowances to reflect the country’s current economic realities.
Saraki’s said via his Twitter handle (@bukolasaraki) that he had met with the chairman of the commission to seek clarification on the contentious issue.
According to him: “Chairman of RMAFC was in my office to clarify wardrobe allowance. The amount is N506,600 per senator.”
He added: “Fixing of remuneration of political office holders is the sole responsibility of RMAFC. With the current challenges we are facing as a nation, RMAFC will be reviewing allowances to reflect the current economic trend.”
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Recently, Senator Ajayi Borrofice (Ondo North) in an interview with Thisday explained that the money was not only for wardrobe allowance, but would also cover expenses on vehicle fuelling, maintenance, domestic staff, personal assistant, constituency office, house maintenance, utilities, entertainment, among others.