Former Senate majority leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army has called for Part-time legislative status for the National Assembly while speaking to journalists on Monday in Abuja.
He also asked that all overhead costs as well as salaries of public servants with the exception of low salary earners to be reduced. He also advocated for a parliamentary system of government because the presidential system which Nigeria practices does not favour poor countries.
The Senator, also called for the stoppage of all the travel allowances because people no longer travel. He said Nigeria cannot continue in a situation where 70% of the country’s budget is going to personnel and recurrent expenditure as if everything is okay
Ndume said, “we should fasten our belt during this pandemic due to the fall in the prices of crude oil which is the main stay of our economy. The Federal Government should critically look into to cutting down the cost of governance.”
“I called for the reduction of overhead cost, salaries of senior public servants and the recurrent expenditure. I didn’t say salaries of civil servants who are struggling to survive, should be slashed.”
“I maintain that since most of us who are public servants across the three arms of government are not working full time for now, our salaries should no longer be paid 100 per cent. Overhead should also not be 100 per cent again.
“All those travel allowances should stop because we are not traveling again. We are operating from online now, the provision for stationery should be stopped. By that so many expenditure would have been moved.
“As far as I am concerned, we can make the National Assembly a part time arrangement for now since we conduct our sitting once or twice in a week these days. If we make it part time, that means our salaries must be reduced.
“The reality is that we can’t continue in a situation like this where 70 per cent of the country’s budget is going to personnel and recurrent expenditure as if everything is okay. This is a time when we are borrowing to fund the budget.
“The government should identify public officers that can work part time and reduce their salaries. For example, even we in the National Assembly, for the period of this pandemic.
“I strongly advocate that the work of the legislature and other people should be made part time and therefore, pay them on part time basis to reduce the cost. There are jobs that are not critical , that could be converted to part time basis to reduce costs.”
“We cannot make the jobs of medical personnel part time. There are other essential service workers like the police and the Army that cannot be made part time. However, other jobs should be converted to part time.”
“A director who is sitting at home working via virtual means does not deserve a full salary.
“The current situation is not sustainable. I even believe in the Parliamentary system of government. When Prof. Ango Abdullahi said Nigeria should revert to the parliamentary system of government, I said I support it because the Presidential system of government is not for poor countries like us.”
“Today, if Nigerians demand a reversion to the parliamentary system of government, I will support it. The running cost of the government must be reduced by a certain percentage that is significant so as to create jobs for the unemployed.”
Recall that in the revised 2020 budget, N27.7 billion was budgeted for the “Renovation of National Assembly Complex” while, ”National Assembly Budget” is N115.2 billion.
Read further; The Misplaced Priority in Nigeria’s 2020 Revised Budget
The suggestions by Senator Ndume is good. The money can be better channeled to capital projects and provision of basic infrastructures in the country, which will create avenue for sustainable development and job creation.
However, he should raise this as a motion in the house for consideration.