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National Assembly Broke!!!

National Assembly Broke!!!

The National Assembly is broke, unable to meet its financial needs, it was learnt yesterday.

Administrative responsibilities, such as payment of monthly salaries to lawmakers, their aides and members of staff, are not being met and the management is worried.

Legislators, their aides and civil servants are yet to be paid February salaries as at yesterday.

The January salary was paid two weeks into February. According to sources, the management borrowed from a bank to pay last month.

The salary issue is just one of the many problems facing the National Assembly.

The one that is biting the lawmakers most is the inability of the management to pay their usual quarterly allocation, which should have been paid in January.

Their displeasure over the non-payment of the allocation stem from the obvious fact that most of them were banking on it to fund the final phases of their election campaigns, leaving many to think that perhaps the executive deliberately withheld their funds as a punitive measure.

It was learnt that late last year and also early in January, the leadership of the National Assembly met with the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, to resolve the financial crisis.

While not admitting that the nation was broke as was variously insinuated, the minister was said to have told her guests that her office would release only half of their quarterly allocation.

The National Assembly’s leadership, according to a source who was part of the meeting, but would not want to be named, turned down the offer, insisting that since the money had been appropriated and the minister claimed the nation was not broke, all and not part of the money should be released. This meeting took place at the Presidential Villa.

By the time the National Assembly’s leadership met with the Minister again last January, both parties finally agreed that the quarterly allocation would be paid in three installments, beginning from January.

This plan has been disrupted by the ministry, which paid only the January installment. Both the February and March payments that would have completed the agreed three installments are still pending.

This situation, according to insiders, has put many of the legislators in a precarious position as some of them are finding it difficult to meet up with commitments with banks where they have taken loans.

A source said the morale of most of the employees of the National Assembly Service Commission is at its lowest ebb with many of them struggling to transport themselves to work, their woes compounded by the recent fuel scarcity in Abuja.

The financial crisis in the Assembly has also brought about frequent power outages. Electricity bills and others, such as Internet, maintenance and other sundry bills are said to be over N1 billion, leaving the service providers with no option, but to disrupt services.

Construction giant Julius Berger recently pulled out of the maintenance arrangement it had with the Assembly. Several elevators in the complex have been faulty for several months.

 

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