*** Says it does not rely on MDAs to Fund their activities
*** Says Sitting at Plenary does not Require Money
By Henry Umoru
The Senate Tuesday said that the National Assembly is not in any way broke as no lawmaker and any staff is owed any salary, just it said that the salaries of February have been paid.
According to the Senate, it does not rely on the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of government to fund their activities especially the oversight functions of the lawmakers.
Speaking with Journalists in Abuja, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, All Progressives Congress, APC, Osun Central said that the National Assembly does not require money before it could sit.
Senator Basiru who was apparently responding cash crunch story, said, “We are in the 9th of March and we have a 12-month calendar. There is nothing that says we won’t sit for 180 days. It is therefore irresponsible for anybody to insinuate that we would not sit for 180 days. Those who are saying we won’t achieve the mandatory 180 days are just creating unnecessary tension where there is none.
“Nobody can predict that we won’t sit for 180 days, it is too early in the year to determine that. Despite last year’s lockdown, we achieved our mandatory 180 days sitting.
“There was no circular that we have reduced sitting to once in a week . We have been having sitting three times a week since the beginning of this year at the Senate. We have slso had sitting twice a week. There is a second wave of covid – 19 pandemic. We are very brisk in our business these days. When it was necessary, we had had occasions to sit on a Monday this year.
“The issue of cash crunch hitting the National Assembly is the figment of the imagination of the writers. I have just returned from my constituency where I went to supervise the projects that I facilitated and being implemented by the executive arm of government. There is no Senator that would say he or she cannot go to their constituencies due to non-funding of their constituency projects.
“The National Assembly as far as I am concerned is not owing its staff, salaries. The management is not also owing any lawmaker. It is totally wrong to say that the National Assembly is relying on the ministries, departments and agencies to fund its committee works. If that is even the case, that will even be conflict of interest.
“I don’t know the intention behind that story, but it is concocted and a deliberate attempt to pitch the National Assembly against the executive or to pitch the public against us that we are not living up to our expectations. The National Assembly does not rely on the MDAs to fund our activities.
“We have budget for our committees and oversight. Also, when there is specific needs in terms of consultancy services or special travels to do our jobs, the bureaucracy support such assignment. It does not make sense to rely on the same MDAs We are over sighting for funding again. The National Assembly has a first line charge. There is no senator or member of the House of Representatives that can come out and say he or she had not been paid.
“We adjourned today without holding plenary in line with our parliamentary tradition to honour any of our deceased colleague. We met twice last week and attended to several bills, and confirmation of appointment. There is no official position on the number of days that we will be sitting per week.
“Sitting at plenary does not require money. It is just require printing of order papers. We are not collecting sitting allowances. There is no pecuniary financial requirements for us to sit. I don’t see how finance can hinder our sitting. We are not collecting sitting allowance, we only collect salaries at the end of the month.
“We are in March and all our February salaries have been paid. The only thing we need during plenaries are printing of reports and the Committee on Business and Rules which is being adequately funded by the management is handling that. We are merely observing covid – 19 health and safety protocols and we won’t do anything that would be hazardous to the health of our members. We have never amended our rules to sit once per week.”