The Senate on Wednesday rejected the report of its Finance committee on the pay cut recommended for senator’s salaries and allowances. The rejection came after sharp disagreements among members. The two hour session was held behind closed doors.
The Finance committee was headed by Senator James Manager.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at plenary, explained that “Senate in closed session deliberated on the report of the finance committee but agreed to stand it down for further legislative input.”
Addressing journalists after plenary, Senate spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye, said further action on the report was put on hold because the senate budget was an integral part of the National Assembly budget being jointly shared by seven bodies.
Melaye said, “The Senate today, in closed-door session, discussed the report of the ad hoc committee on finances of the senate.
“After due deliberations by the senators, we came to the conclusion that since the budget of the Senate is not independent of the budget of the National Assembly, the budget of the House of Representatives is also inclusive.
“We have the management; we have the National Institute for Legislative Studies; we have even the Public Conduct Commission; the National Assembly Civil Service Commission, and over 3, 000 legislative aides, that are beneficiaries of the N120bn annual budget.
“Therefore, we have agreed that we should consult amongst other arms that share the budget of the National Assembly, before we would draw a conclusion on the report.
“So, the resolution is that we are going to interface with the House of Representatives so that we can be on the same page on the report as presented. This is the resolution of the Senate today in a closed-door session.”
It was however learnt that the senators rejected the proposal because the recommendations were not practicable. They wondered why senators would accept pay cut while other beneficiaries of the N120bn National Assembly annual budget would not do the same.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), said majority of the senators agreed that “funny allowances” like the monthly N42,000 wardrobe allowance should be cut off completely.
He said, “Yes, as recommended by the committee, all senators agreed that there must be openness in Senate budget and by extension, that of the National Assembly.
“At the same time, many reasoned that why should we further reduce our budget when already, N30bn has been reduced from the traditional 150bn that it used to be for all the seven different organs of the National Assembly.
“All of us have people in our constituencies and financial requests from them keep piling up on a daily basis, the reality of which made steps to be redirected, otherwise, some of us may stop coming here.”
The committee, it was learnt, also recommended the publication of all the payments accruable to each senator on a quarterly basis.