The Management of the National Assembly has denied paying a holiday largesse to Senators contrary to the disclosure by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, during a Senate plenary.
The parliament bureaucracy said the N2million it paid to each Senator was a statutory running cost of their offices, which was captured in the 2023 budget, and not for a jamboree or vacation as being insinuated.
LEADERSHIP reports that Akpabio had penultimate Monday night at the tail-end of a special plenary session after the Senate completed the screening and confirmation of President Bola Tinubu’s ministerial nominees, openly informed Senators that the CNA, Magaji Tambuwal, had wired money into their individual bank accounts in order to enjoy their annual holiday.
“In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly…,” Akpabio had said amid interruptions from Senators, who were apparently dissatisfied with his public disclosure for fear of a backlash.
The development forced the Senate President to pause a bit and thereafter withdraw the statement for the record and rephrased the same information.
“In order to enjoy your holidays, the Senate President has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return,” Akpabio had said in the alternative to calm down frayed nerves.
Nigerians, however, took to social media to berate the Senate President and his colleagues for allegedly feeding fat on the nation’s commonwealth at a time majority of Nigerians were facing economic challenges occasioned by Federal Government’s policy of petrol subsidy removal, among others.
Some also wondered why political officeholders would enjoy perks of office to the fullest while President Bola Tinubu was asking ordinary Nigerians to sacrifice.
But, a statement signed by the Secretary, Research & Information on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Dr. Ali B. Umoru, on Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by LEADERSHIP, said the N2million payment to the lawmakers wasn’t a new development or privilege, but an entitlement backed by the Appropriation Law for the running of their offices.
“The attention of the Management of the National Assembly has been drawn to the persistent mischaracterization and misunderstanding of the payment of a N2,000,000.00 (Two million naira) allowance to each Senator.
“It should be noted that the Two million Naira is part of the running cost of the office of each senator as provided for in the 2023 budget.
“The allocation for running costs is not a new development; it has been a standard practice. These funds are utilized to facilitate various activities that directly contribute to effective representation, legislative activities and other initiatives aimed at serving the interests of the people.
“For the avoidance of doubt, and for emphasis, the said allowances were budgeted for in the 2023 Appropriation Act as part of the running cost of the office of each Senator of the 10th Assembly. The allowances are therefore an entitlement and not a privilege or largesse distributed to the Senators.
“However, given the wrong impression the subject matter has created, it has become imperative to make this clarification and put the records straight,” Umoru stated.
He reiterated that the National Assembly remains committed to transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, adding that, “We appreciate the continued support and understanding of the Nigerian people as we work together to uphold the principles of democracy and good governance.”