…Calls for cancellation of all travel allowances
…Says he didn’t call for the reduction of lower cadre civil servants salaries
By Henry Umoru
FORMER Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume(APC, Borno South) has called for the scrapping of the present full-time system of the National Assembly and make it a part-time system.
According to him, the call to make the National Assembly a part-time arrangement, for now, has become very imperative since at the moment, parliamentary sessions are held once or twice a week, adding that with this part-time in place, the salaries of the lawmakers must be reduced.
The Senator, who has also called for the stoppage of all the travel allowances because people no longer travel, has also advocated for a parliamentary system of government because the system does not favour poor countries.
Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Ndume who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army has denied calling on the Federal Government to slash the salaries of civil servants across board during an interview he granted in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
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Ndume said, “The statement credited to me was not a complete statement and I was quoted out of context. When they asked me questions about the revised budget, I said we should fasten our belt during this pandemic due to the fall in the prices of crude oil which is the main stay of our economy. I said the Federal Government should critically look into to cutting down of cost of governance.
“I called for the reduction of overhead cost, salaries of senior public servants and the recurrent expenditure. That is what I said and I still stand by it. Taking cognizance of the fact that the salaries of the lower cadre civil servants are too small, I couldn’t have called for its further reduction.
“As a matter of fact, Nigerian civil servants deserve palliative from all tiers of government, even with their salaries. I maintain that since most of us who are public servants across the three arms of government are not working full time for now, our salaries should no longer be paid 100 per cent. Overhead should also not be 100 per cent again.
“All those travel allowances should stop because we are not traveling again. We are operating from online now, the provision for stationery should be stopped. By that so many expenditure would have been moved. As far as Iam concerned, we can make the National Assembly a part time arrangement for now since we conduct our sitting once or twice in a week these days. If we make it part time, that means our salaries must be reduced.
“The reality is that we can’t continue in a situation like this where 70 per cent of the country’s budget is going to personnel and recurrent expenditure as if everything is okay. This is a time when we are borrowing to fund the budget. I didn’t say salaries of civil servants who are struggling to survive, should be soashed. If under this critical circumstances where 70 per cent of the budget goes to recurrent expenditure and overhead, then the government should really sit down and critically look at it.
“The government should identify public officers that can work part time and reduce their salaries. For example, even we in the National Assembly, for the period of this pandemic, I strongly advocate that the work of the legislature and other people should be made par time and therefore, pay them on part time basis to reduce the cost. There are jobs that are not critical , that could be converted to part time basis to reduce costs.
“We cannot make the jobs of medical personnel part time. There are other essential service workers like the police and the Army that cannot be made part time. However, other jobs should be converted to part time. A director who is sitting at home working via virtual means does not deserve a full salary.
“The current situation is not sustainable. I even believe in the Parliamentary system of government. When Prof. Ango Abdullahi said Nigeria should revert to the parliamentary system of government, I said I support it because the Presidential system of government is not for poor countries like us. Today, if Nigerians demand a reversion to the parliamentary system of government, I will support it. The running cost of the government must be reduced by a certain percentage that is significant so as to create jobs for the unemployed.”