Members of the National assembly in both the upper and lower chambers have not been paid since they were sworn in. The situation is causing some concern and disquiet among the lawmakers, as senators are finding it difficult to even pay their staff, while banks have also been rejecting their requests for loans.
The Senate leadership is however working hard and “round the clock” to fix the problem and ensure that the lawmakers get their due,according to the Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Media, Information and Public Affairs, Senator Dino Melaye.
“The issue of welfare of all senators is paramount to the leadership of the Senate and the Senator Bukola Saraki-led leadership is committed to it,” said Melaye. He however did not give a time frame for the resolution of the issue.
Even though Melaye said he was unaware of the fact that some senators who have been applying for loans from banks are being denied, the Punch newspaper is reporting that banks are turning down the lawmakers due to the dire economic situation in the country.
The only payment received so far by the lawmakers which they consider to be inadequate, is the N6m each was paid for housing loan.
According to The Punch,
Some of the senators told our correspondents that they had sourced money from their personal businesses to pay their aides’ “maintenance allowance”, with the hope that June and July salaries would soon be paid.
One of the senators, a Peoples Democratic Party member from the South-East, told one of our correspondents, that a bank turned down his request for a N20m loan recently.
The senator said the excuse of the bank was that so many high profile Nigerians were currently indebted to them and that the issue of cash crunch, which is affecting all sectors, was not helping matters.
He said, “The National Assembly Service Commission had only approved N6m to each of us as housing loan. What can that type of money do in a place like Abuja? It is grossly inadequate but we have taken it as a sacrifice.”
A female senator, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said she had yet to recover from her campaign expenses, stressing that the current financial crisis in the polity has further worsened her case, having to take care of her aides.
She said, “Personally, as a senator, I am very comfortable because I do not rely on National Assembly salaries to live my normal life and perform my duties as a lawmaker but I can’t be looking at my aides who are suffering.
“They have not received a dime since their appointments in June. Even the National Assembly staff have not received their salaries. I am currently borrowing money to pay ‘maintenance’ money to my aides.
“That is why most of us felt terribly bad recently when the newspapers reported that we were to receive N9bn jumbo pay each. Where will such money come from? As I speak with you, I am still expecting my car loan and we don’t know when it will come”
A senator from the South-West, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he had decided to limit the number of his aides to two.
“Until things get better, I will not have more than two aides. I have not been able to get a loan from my bank. No senator has received June and July salaries,” he said.