By Deji Elumoye
Former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, has canvassed for part time lawmaking as well as slash in the salaries of legislators in the wake of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
Ndume told reporters on Wednesday that it will not be out of place if the current National Assembly is on part-time basis with legislators’ salaries slashed since the two chambers now sit for maximum of two days in a week.
He said: “As far as I’m 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.
“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 part-time and therefore, pay them on part-time basis to reduce the cost.
“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.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, further expressed his preference for parliamentary system of government and not the current presidential system of government.
He said: “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”.
Ndume also clarified his recent call on the Federal Government to slash the salaries of civil servants saying he was quoted out of context.
Said he: “When I was asked 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 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 facts 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.
“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 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”, Ndume further said.