These are not the best of times for members of the National Assembly, as commercial banks have launched fresh moves to recover billions of naira from lawmakers spent during last year’s elections.
Lawmakers, particularly returnee Senators and Reps, are battling to stop moves by some commercial banks to repossess their properties, following their inability to pay back loans used in prosecuting their elections.
Findings by Ripples Nigeria show that some of the affected Senators are predominantly from South-south, South-east and few states from North-central and North-east. It is believed that they secured huge sums as high as N300 million to secure their party’s tickets and for campaign purposes.
Aides to two Senators from North-central and the other from Southern states, who spoke with our correspondent, said they contested against powerful forces and had to borrow money to secure their return tickets to the National Assembly.
The woes of lawmakers have been worsened by the delay in the payment of their statutory salaries and allowances.
One of the aides revealed, that in the past, lawmakers were paid promptly, sometimes before the end of every month. But that since President Muhammadu Buhari came in, the pattern has changed.
According to him, lawmakers seldom get their salaries and allowances at the end of the month. Sometimes, their payments are delayed till the second or third week of the every month.
The reoccurring delay in the payment, has further compounded the plights of lawmakers, wityh banks now charging them extra interest whenever they default in repaying their loans at the end of every month.
Lawmakers also ran into troubled waters, following the disappearance of goodies and perks attached to juicy committees.
The implementation of Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA), which stripped Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of access to raw funds has also contributed.
It was discovered that in the past, it was easy for lawmakers to recoup their campaign funds less than one year after they were sworn-in. But MDAs who were their cash cows can no longer fund their excesses.
During oversight functions in the past, lawmakers were handsomely rewarded by MDAs and in turn, turned a blind eye to the rot in the various establishments.
Checks also revela that the lawmakers, unable to fund their ostentatious lifestyles, have jettisoned their frequent visits to their constituencies. Instead, they stay back in Abuja and send emissaries to their constituents.
While in their offices in Abuja, lawmakers prevent their constituents from visiting them. With the help of security cameras fixed in their offices, they can see from afar who is in the waiting room.
Whenever they do not want to see any constituent or visitor, their secretaries feign excuses on their behalf and this has become a reoccurring occurence.
For now, those owing the banks have gone hunting to seek for funds to offset the bank loans, and get the banks of thier banks, as the situation gives them sleepless nights.
Some of them have abandoned their legislative duties, only trying to keep up appearances to justify their stay in the chambers as they go in search of funds.
By Ehisuan Odia…
Ripples Nigeria…without borders, without fears
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