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Ndoma-Egba Faults Call For Part-Time Legislature

By Michael Jegede
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The Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, representing Cross River Senatorial District has faulted the call for the operation of a part-time legislative system in the country.

Last week, delegates at the ongoing National Conference had adopted a recommendation by its Committee on Public Service that lawmakers both at national and state levels should be made to do their work on part-time basis to reduce cost of governance.

But Ndoma-Egba in an interview described the proposal as a cheap propaganda, while noting that the delegates were not fair in their assessment. He wondered why their focus should be on just the legislature in proposing for a cut-down in the cost of running government.

His words: 'As far as I'm concerned, it is a strange recommendation because I do not see how you want to have that in a presidential system of government. I'm not aware of any country with presidential system practicing part-time legislature. If their worry is truly about cost of governance, then they need to think more deeply and do a proper and dispassionate assessment of the situation on ground. The budget of the National Assembly in the last six years has remained N150 billion which is less than 3% of the entire budget that is about 4.9 trillion for 2014.

This means that if you even decide to scrap the entire NASS, what you will be saving is just about 3% of the national budget. This 3% takes care of the salaries of the lawmakers and their allowances, salaries of their aides, salaries of staff of National Institute of Legislative Studies from the DG to the cleaner, staff of National Assembly Service Commission, our subscription to international parliamentary bodies.

Can you compare this with the opaque fuel regime and the pension regime? What I receive as a Senator is not different from what a minister or Supreme Court judge receives as salary. All these can be confirmed at the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission. Why are they not talking about cutting down the salaries of Ministers? Do they know what is the overhead cost of running the office of a Minister? Why are people trying to make the legislature the scapegoat?'

On the claim by some that Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world, the Senate Leader said: 'It is not true. Just google the salary of a US Senator and you will see what a US Senator receives as salary compare to a Nigerian Senator. Here is my pay slip. My salary and allowance every month is N948, 373.16 which is less than N12m per annum. A US Senator's basic salary alone is $174,000 per annum. If you multiply that by 164 as at today, you will get N28, 536, 000. I am only entitled to six aides as Nigerian Senator. But the personal staff allowance of a US Senator allows him to hire staff both in Washington and his district office between the range of 26 to 60 with maximum pay per employee at $156, 848 as of 2005.'

FROM MICHAEL JEGEDE
MEDIA PRACTITIONER
ABUJA.....