- Ndume calls for part-time legislature, cut in lawmakers’ salaries
Omololu Ogunmade and Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari wednesday hailed the leadership of the ninth National Assembly for leading the federal legislature to positively impacted on the lives of Nigerians in the last one year and bringing dignity and honour to Nigeria.
The president, in his assessment of the legislature to commemorate the first anniversary of the extant session, hailed what he described as the assembly’s sense of duty and diligence in handling national issues.
On his part, a former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, canvassed part-time lawmaking as well as a slash in the salaries of legislators in the wake of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
Buhari, in a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, praised what he described as the sense of maturity and passion with which the federal legislature has passed bills that impacted on the lives of Nigerians.
He thanked Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, for deploying their wealth of experience to enhance the working relationship with the executive and the judiciary.
The president said the National Assembly had brought dignity and honour to the country, and solicited the continuous cooperation of the parliament in the years ahead.
“On behalf of Nigerians, and the Federal Executive Council, President Muhammadu Buhari sends warm greetings to the leadership and members of the Ninth National Assembly on their first anniversary, extolling the sense of duty and diligence in handling issues related to the development of the country.
“President Buhari salutes the vision, courage and patriotism of the Assembly, noting, with appreciation, the understanding and maturity of the lawmakers in speedily processing bills that directly impact the welfare of Nigerians, courageously finding common grounds to move the country forward, and passionately carrying out their oversight functions with justice and fairness.
“The president presents his goodwill to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, congratulating them for using their wealth of experience, wisdom and knowledge to ensure a peaceful working relationship among lawmakers, between both chambers, the judiciary and the executive, by always focusing on the larger picture of nation building.
“As the Ninth National Assembly commemorates the landmark, President Buhari believes the legislature has brought dignity and honour to the country, and looks forward to more years of harmonious working relationship, with focus on improving the livelihood of citizens, and creating an enabling environment for a prosperous nation where both the young and old can fully realise their dreams,” the statement said.
Also yesterday, Ndume advocated a 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 that it would be proper if the current National Assembly is on part-time with legislators’ salaries slashed since the two chambers now sit for a 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.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, expressed his preference for parliamentary system of government as against the current presidential system.
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.
“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 cognisance 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 travelling again. We are operating from online now, the provision for stationery should be stopped. By that, so many expenditure would have been moved,” he stated.