Chuks Okocha in Abuja
At last, the management of the National Assembly has commenced the payments of severance benefits to members of the eighth National Assembly.
As at press time, some of the Senators have publicly announced that they have been paid their severance benefits.
All members of the National Assembly are entitled to 300 percent upon a completion of their basic salary as severance benefits or paid on a project basis on when they assumed duties.
In one of such acknowledgments of the payment of their severance benefits, the Media Adviser to former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyanu, said in his verified Twitter handle that: “This is to confirm that ex-SP, Bukola Saraki, has been paid his severance allowance. He got a total of N3, 752, 727.00. He has been working to ensure that his aides get theirs.
“And as you know, he had promised to donate whatever the money is to three families that were announced.”
Saraki had directed the National Assembly management to distribute his severance package to families of three victims of the insurgency in the North-east region as well as cash-strapped children of late senators.
Although he did not mention a specific figure, it was, however, learnt that the Kwara State ex-governor’s severance package was 300 per cent of his salary.
In the statement, Saraki explained that the pay should be used to support the families of Leah Sharibu, who is still being held by the Boko Haram sect for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, and two humanitarian workers abducted and subsequently murdered by the insurgents, Hussaini Ahmed Khoisan and Hauwa Liman.
Also to benefit from the money are children of late members of the eighth Senate who may require financial assistance in furtherance of their education as a trust fund is to be established by the management of the National Assembly for that purpose.
Saraki stated that his decision was based on the fact that their cases represented some of the most touching humanitarian issues debated at plenary during his four-year reign in the upper legislative chamber.
According to him, 20 per cent of the fund is to be donated to the Sharibu family while 20 per cent would go to the Limans and another 20 per cent is for the Khoisans.
The balance 40 per cent is for the National Assembly management to set up a trust fund to cater for the needy children of late lawmakers in the outgoing assembly.
The former Senate president added: “It is my hope that this Trust Fund would grow with more contribution from my dear colleagues, present, past and future, who may be moved to put in additional money into it.”
Some of the 109 senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives, and over 3,000 legislative aides, who were appointed in various capacities in the federal legislature, have accused the National Assembly management and leadership of failing to pay their stipulated severance funds over six months after the end of the tenure.
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission in its remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders, senators, members of the House of Representatives and many of the legislative aides recommends payment of 300 percent of annual basic pay to them as severance entitlements.
Each of the 109 senators and 360 House members has five legislative aides each, totaling 545 and 1, 800 respectively or a cumulative total of 2, 345 who are collectively entitled to varying amount of money that adds up to well above N8 billion.
The additional benefits of Principal Officers in both the Upper and Lower Houses include a large number of additional aides serving as Chiefs of Staff, Advisers, Special Assistants and others and severance packages are to be paid to them too.
According to THISDAY sources at the National Assembly, the severance benefits for senators and members of the House have been finalised while a special committee which was working on those of the legislative aides is about to finalise details so that legislative aides can be paid before the end of this month.The lawmakers, who served as senators and members of the House of Representatives, including those who were re-elected already, had part of their severance benefits, totaling about 300, 000 to 400, 000 deducted for payment on ‘depreciated asset and equipment’ such as television sets, refrigerators, computers and others.