The Upper Chamber of the Nigeria Nation Assembly has denied the speculations that Senators and Members of the House of Representatives may be unable to sit for the mandatory 180 days due to lack of cash in the National Assembly.
The Chamber’s spokesperson, Dr. Ajibola Basiru made this known on Tuesday.
He said that the speculation was off the mark because the legislators were not being paid sitting allowance to attend plenary
Basiru denied the speculation while speaking to newsmen in Abuja. He was reacting to a story published by a national daily that the legislature resorted to holding plenary once in a week due to financial constraints.
He assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will meet the constitutional 180 sitting this year as it achieved it last year, when COVID-19 pandemic was on the rise.
The senate spokesperson said, “We are in the 9th of March and we have a 12-month calendar. There is nothing that says we won’t sit for 180 days.
“It is therefore irresponsible for anybody to insinuate that we would not sit for 180 days.
“Those who are saying we won’t achieve the mandatory 180 days sitting are just creating unnecessary tension where there is none.
“Nobody can predict that we won’t sit for 180 days, it is too early in the year to determine that. Despite last year’s lockdown, we achieved our mandatory 180 days’ sitting.
“There was no circular that we have reduced sitting to once in a week. We have been sitting three times a week since the beginning of this year at the Senate.
“We have also been sitting twice a week. There is a second wave of COVID–19 pandemic. We are very brisk in our business these days. When it was necessary, we had had occasions to sit on a Monday this year.
“The issue of cash crunch hitting the National Assembly is the figment of the imagination of the writers. Sitting at a plenary does not require money. It just requires printing of order papers. We are not collecting sitting allowances.
“There are no pecuniary financial requirements for us to sit. I don’t see how finance can hinder our sitting. We are not collecting sitting allowance; we only collect salaries at the end of the month.
“We are in March and all our February salaries have been paid. The only thing we need during plenaries are printing of reports and the Committee on Business and Rules which is being adequately funded by the management is handling that.
“We are merely observing COVID-19 health and safety protocols and we won’t do anything that would be hazardous to the health of our members. We have never amended our rules to sit once per week.”
“It is totally wrong to say that the National Assembly is relying on the ministries, departments and agencies to fund its committee works.
“The National Assembly does not rely on the MDAs to fund our activities. We have a budget for our committees and oversight.”