The National Assembly Service Commission which is on first line charge and used to get about N150 billion yearly to run its affairs, has come out to say it is cash-strapped and cannot pay salaries of its legislators most of whom have completed their tour of duty and were either voted out or did not seek re-election.
The stark reality of the sharp drop in the nation’s revenue following crude oil price slump at the international market now stares Nigerians, including federal lawmakers in the face.
Also unable to pay salaries in their states, governors will consult with President Muhammadu Buhari next week to discuss the way out of the quagmire.
They will meet him under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) that has also congratulated and pledged to work with the leadership of the National Assembly.
A top management official of the commission with knowledge of the financial state of the National Assembly 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.”