Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Sani-Omolori, have been asked to resolve the payment of severance allowances of legislative aides of the 8th National Assembly (NASS).
A similar problem is brewing as legislative aides of the 9th NASS under the aegis of Progressives Aides Caucus recently petitioned Lawan over unpaid allowances.
They alleged that the CNA was shortchanging them by “ordering payment of accumulated allowances from the date on the letter appointment rather than the date of commencement of duties” as attested by their principals.
The petition signed by the Chairman, Lawson Oviasogie and Secretary, Ibrahim Abdulhamid, recalled that some aides resumed duties even before letters of appointments were issued to them.
It lamented that just as payment began based on previous discussion and agreement, Sani-Omolori ordered abrupt halt.
The petition described the directive as a deliberate attempt to misappropriate the funds meant for them.
On November 4, Lawan, Gbajabiamila and principal officers of the legislature, met the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, the Director-General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, the CNA, NASS Service Commission directors, among others, over the matter.
A statement by Lawan’s special assistant on press, Ezrel Tabiowo, quoted him as saying the tenure of legislative aides was tied to the tenure of the National Assembly. “Therefore, they are entitled to severance allowance,” he said.
Lawan disclosed that prior to the intervention by both chambers, the senate leadership had a meeting with the management of the National Assembly and the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Lawan said, “It is only fair that we give them what is due to them.
“We realise there was need to bring on board for this discussion the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the National Assembly Service Commission.
”So that we discuss and finalise where the source of the severance allowance for the legislative aides will be.
“And the presence of both chambers here tells us that this is a matter that affects the entire National Assembly.
“All the aides of the Senators and House of representatives who completed their assignment are affected on both sides”.
But six weeks after, DAILY POST gathered that the situation remains the same.
On Saturday, an aide to a former principal officer, on condition of anonymity, said being in office for six months was enough time for the current NASS leadership to fix the issue.
He said: “The former Senators and House members were paid their own severance weeks ago. Now, the people who need it more, the Legislative Aides, many of whom have not gotten other opportunities since the 8th Assembly ended in June, have not been paid their entitlements.
“This has been the case throughout the 8th Assembly, where the Clerk and the bureaucracy arbitrarily determined how much aides were meant to get for their quarterly duty tour allowances.
“The National Assembly leadership, Lawan, Gbajabiamila and Omolori, the Clerk, should know that this is a very serious issue and people have died waiting for these entitlements to be paid.
“The Clerk needs to stop playing the games with people’s money and funds and pay us what is rightfully ours, which has been appropriated for in the 2019 budget.”
There are 109 senators and 360 House members; each is entitled to five legislative aides. However, principal officers have additional staff including chief of staff, advisers, special assistants, among others.
RMAFC stipulates payment of 300 per cent of annual basic pay as severance for political, public, judicial office holders, federal lawmakers and legislative aides.