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Senate Defends N70bn Palliative For Lawmakers

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Amidst criticisms over the N70 billion palliative for lawmakers, the Senate has said that the money was earmarked to support “the working conditions of National Assembly members.”

In a statement on Sunday, Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Yemi Adaramodu, defended the N70bn allocation and called on Nigerians to see their National Assembly as partner 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 a 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 environment 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,” he said.

The N70 billion palliative for lawmakers has been criticised by many including advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.

SERAP urged the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and Speaker of House of Representatives, 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.”

“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 statement said.

Also, human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, described the move as callous and a breach of the constitution of the country.

Falana in a statement on Sunday, 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.

“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 per cent of people (133 million) are multidimensionally poor’.”

 

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