Amidst Dwindling Resources And Lean Purse, The Federal Government Will Cough Up N9bn To Dress Legislators Even As Lobby For Passage Of PIB Commences
Teddy Nwanunobi and Dyepkazah Shanibayan Abuja
No less than N9 billion has been set aside as wardrobe allowances for the 469 federal legislators of the 8th National Assembly.
The amount which is waiting to be collected by the next week does not include other allowances like furniture, housing, vehicle etc.
This is even as management of the National Assembly Complex is making move to fast track allocation of offices to the federal legislators ahead of their resumption at the end of their two week recess next week.
Recall that the national Assembly, which comprises the senate and house of representatives, adjourned last Wednesday to reconvene on tuesday, june 23.
Information available on THE UNICON indicates that the sum of N17.5 million would be paid into the account of each of the 360 members of the House, while the sum of N21.5 million would be paid into the account of each of the 108 senators (bearing in mind that the late Senator Ahmed Zannah is yet to be replaced).
Like the furniture and vehicle allowances, the wardrobe allowance is meant for the four-year period of the legislators.
The UNION, however, reports that the housing allowance would be paid on yearly basis.
The UNION also reports that the housing allowance for the political office holders is 200 per cent of their annual salaries; the furniture is 300 per cent, while the vehicle loan is 400 per cent.
The sum of N16,211,200 would be paid to each of the 107 senators as housing allowance during their four year term.
This means that each senator (except the Sanate president and his deputy) would be receiving an annual sum of N4,052,800 for the same purpose.
The UNION reports that both the Senate President and the Deputy Sen- ate President have been provided accommodation by the Federal Govern- ment.
Similarly, each member of the House (except the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker) would be paid the sum of N3,970,425 as housing allowance on assumption of office.
This means that the 358 representatives would pocket a total sum of N1,421,412,150 as housing allowance.
The UNION also reports that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are ex- cluded from this allowance, as the Federal Government is to provide their accommodation.
it would be recalled that following the monetisation of entitlements of public officials, the lawmakers lost the right to occupy houses built and main- tained by the government.
Consequently, the Federal Government sold the houses that were previ- ously occupied by the lawmakers.
The principal officers of the National Assembly also benefited from the sale of the houses.
As a result, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is at present building new houses for occupiers of the four presiding offices at both chambers.
For furniture allowance, each of the 107 senators is to get the sum of N6,079,200.
This means that 107 senators will get a total of N650,474,400 as furni- ture allowance, which is paid once in four years.
The furniture for both the Senate President and his deputy are to be fully provided by the government.
Each member of the House would be paid the sum of N5,955,637.50 as furniture allowance, which means that the 358 members (excluding the Speaker and Deputy) would collect a total sum of N2,132,118,225 for fur- niture.
For vehicle, each of the senators is entitled to N8,105,600, while each representative is entitled to N7,940,850.50.
This means that 107 senators would collect the sum of N867,299,200 for vehicle, while 358 representatives would collect N2,842,824,479 for the same purpose.
Meanwhile, after outliving the sixth and seventh National Assemblies, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), once again, comes under focus as a coali- tion of 60 civil society groups begin massive lobby for its immediate passage by the current assembly.
A group known as the Nigerian Civ- il Society Situation Room compris- ing more than 60 civic organisations had yesterday tasked the legislators with the passage of the bill within 12 months.
Convener of the civic organisations coalition and Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo made the call in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the newly elected Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Nwankwo, who spoke on behalf of the Situation Room delegation, listed the Constitution Amendment Bill, Electoral Act and other outstanding bills amongst others as priority legislation which should receive accelerated hearing and eventual passage by the 8th National Assembly.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, in his response, hailed the contributions of Nigerian civil societies in the successful conduct of the 2015 general elections.
Dogara said the House on resump- tion from its current two-week break would commission civil society organisations to conduct a “needs as- sessment” to determine priority areas as well as needs and gaps of the 8th National Assembly.
He assured speedy passage of the PIB and other priority Bills by the 8th Assembly.
“We want this needs assessment to be conducted on the legislature and we want the civil societies in this country to do that. The National Assembly membership will be excluded because once we are involved, they will say the exercise has been tainted with bias.
“On the issue of pending Bills, we recently amended the rules of the House to provide for a situation whereby those (outstanding) Bills will not commence afresh.
“As soon as we start legislative business, we are going to prepare a com- pendium of all those Bills that we con- sider critical as quickly as possible for onward transmission to the President for assent”.