In from Ali Smart …
Even in the midst of a purported cash crunch, members of the 8th Assembly have spent about N13billion in two months, Ripples has learnt.
A breakdown of how these monies was shared among the upper and lower legislative arms showed that 109 senators got N3. 967 billion while the 360 Reps shared N9 billion.
Ripples was reliably informed that 109 Senators and the 360 Reps were first paid a flat sum of N10milion each in June to ‘cushion’ the difficulty of settling down in Abuja.
The sum was to cover their expenses on housing, transport and furniture.
That cost the tax payers some N4.690billion.
In July, a pro-rata arrangement for the quarterly allowance covering June, 2015 fetched each Senator N13. 4 million and each Rep N7million,
It is however instructive to note that the federal legislators have gone on recess three times between June and now with no bill passed yet.
The Senators, last Wednesday, disagreed sharply on the recommendation by the Finance Committee to cut their salary and allowances.
The James Manager-led committee had recommended a 30 percent cut which, if accepted, would have saved tax payers about N2billion annually.
That translates to N2million reduction from the N51 million quarterly allowances enjoyed under the 7th Senate or about N874million saved from each year’s four quarterly allowances alone.
Besides, the 360 members of the House of Representatives’ reduction of their quarterly allowances from N39million to N33 million will save the nation about N2.1billion, made up of N6million reduction in each members’ allowances over four quarters.
Many Nigerians have lambasted the senators for rejecting the pay cut proposal even after President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo offered to slash their salary by 50 per cent.
After a two-hour closed door meeting on Wednesday, Senate President Bukola Saraki announced that the James Manager committee’s report aiming at reducing salary and allowances would be stood down, and debated on a date is yet to be decided.
Following vociferous public criticism over the annual N150 billion budget being enjoyed by the National Assembly over the past few years, members decided to reduce their 2015 budget by N30 billion, to N120billion.
Investigation by Ripples revealed that many Senators and Reps may have endorsed enough documents to make themselves vulnerable to any serious inquiry by the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption bodies.
However, there is ample confidence that such ‘interference’ cannot be ordered by the Executive in view of dire implications that may effectively stall governance.
According to sources, just like past members used to do, the current members of the National Assembly had circulated a template used to ‘account’ for multi-million Naira expenses for which they were paid as allowances.
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