National Assembly members are entitled to N230 Million palliative – Senate

National Assembly members are entitled to N230 Million palliative - Senate

While many Nigerians are struggling in abject poverty, the National Assembly has set aside 70 billion naira for themselves.
Last week, the National Assembly approved a federal supplementary budget of 819 billion naira. Out of which 70 billion naira is alloted for the legislators – this, the lawmakers said, is for “the working conditions of National Assembly members.”

Before this time, the Lawmakers have approved 40 billion naria for exotic and bulletproof cars, making it 110 billion naira for 465 legislators.
Meanwhile, 12 million families will receive a total of 500 billion naira as palliative – which will be splitted into 8,000 thousand naira monthly in a short period.

This move by the lawmakers has been described by many Nigerians as insensitive, knowing that majority of Nigerians are grappling with economic hardship posed by the removal of the fuel subsidy.

An advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), in a statement on Sunday asked the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, “to drop the scandalous plan to spend N40bn on 465 exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials, and N70bn as ‘palliatives’ for new members.”

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SERAP asked them to “repeal the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act to reduce the budget for the National Assembly by N110bn, reflect the current economic realities in the country, and address the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy on the over 137 million poor Nigerians.”

The group gave the National Assembly seven days automated to retrace its steps, threatening it would go to court if its demand not honored.

Also, other meaningful Nigerians are speaking up. Including a human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana described the move as ‘callous’ and a breach of the Nigeria constitution.

In a statement on Sunday, Falana said, “Out of sheer insensitivity coupled with impunity, the members of the National Assembly, regardless of political affiliation, conspired to breach the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 by padding the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2023 to provide the so-called palliative of N70bn for 306 newly-elected members.

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“While the masses of Nigeria are groaning under the excruciating economic pains unleashed on them by the ruling class, the National Assembly has awarded N228.7m to each of the newly elected legislators. As if that is not enough, the members of the National Assembly have earmarked N40bn to purchase 465 Sports Utility Vehicles and bulletproof cars for principal officials and members. However, the legislators approved the sum of N500bn for 12 million indigent people in a country where the National Bureau of Statistics has said that ‘62.9 percent of people (133 million) are multidimensionally poor’.”
Similarly, the National Chairman Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, described the N70bn as insensitive.
“Instead of increasing our suffering, they should put that amount of money into the socio-economic activities of Nigerian people and give soft loans to those that have been identified as doing legitimate business,” Adeniran said.
While defending the Senate, the Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Yemi Adaramodu urged Nigerians to see the National Assembly as partners in progress.
Adaramodu said, “Suffice to say that the passage is part of the absolute constitutional duty of the Senate. We would, therefore, not wish to take issues with the mischief and misrepresentation that a portion of the just passed Amendment Act that appropriated N70bn was a ‘gift’ to the legislators.”
Adaramodu stressed that “a visit to the suites, offices, and the general structures of the National Assembly complex would reveal yawning and the need for exigent attention.
 “Many senators had to bring their chairs, tables, and electronics and in many cases, do sundry repairs.
“The so-much-debated allocation will not be paid to any legislator. This will be managed by the National Assembly Bureaucracy. It’s pertinent to also note that the National Assembly complex does not house only the legislators. There are thousands of workers and service providers, whose working environments need a facelift, and with necessary tools.
“Since the Assembly complex is not owned by legislators, who are merely political birds of passage, such allocation cannot be termed by anyone as a palliative to the legislators.”

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