Sunday, 16 October 2016

Anger grows in the National Assembly over unpaid billions of allowances

The 3000-strong aides to federal legislators are getting impatient with the management of the National Assembly over the non-payment of their cumulative Duty Tour Allowances and other entitlements put at N1.1billion.
The aides, who, on Wednesday, publicly protested the delay in the payment of their September salary, are now demanding the settlement of their allowances which have not been paid since they assumed duties in June 2015.
They wonder why the NASS management finds it difficult to meet its financial obligations to them even with its N150 billion budget for 2015 and the N115 billion budget for this year.
Sources said the legislatives aides are owed  duty tour allowances (DTA) for four quarters  totaling about N900 million.
Another N225 million DTA is still owed the 2011-2015 set of legislative aides.
Less than 24 hours after last Wednesday’s protest over delayed payment of their September salary, the  legislative aides began receiving payment alerts from their banks.
A member of one of the two factions of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF) who requested anonymity said:”They (NASS management)  just don’t bother to communicate with us even when they know that we are at pains and in suspense.
“None of us ever knows the details of the N150 billion annual budget they have been receiving. Since the beginning of this year, our salaries have always been delayed but when we began a protest within the National Assembly last Wednesday, we began receiving bank payment alerts within hours, that same day.
“Part of the reasons why suspicion continued to grow is the management’s seeming determination to help impose one of the two leadership factions that it favours on NASSLAF.
“The National Assembly is actively supportive of criticisms against the recent raid on judges’ residence because any such unexpected effort by the EFCC or DSS can unravel extremely humongous trails in NASS’ multibillion Naira finances over the past few years.”
Sources said that although millions of naira is usually earmarked for the training of legislative aides annually, no such training has been organized in the recent past.
A text message sent to Alhaji Mohammed Sani Omolori, the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA) on Friday elicited no reply.
In July last year, about twelve months before Omolori became CNA, many of the 3, 000 legislative aides who served 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives in the 7th National Assembly had alleged that a powerful clique within the management of the National Assembly has perfected arrangements to divert a portion or the entire sums earmarked for their last DTA.
They claimed that while the NASS management had dutifully paid the quarterly DTA of about N75, 000 – N90, 000 along with aides’ salaries in the past, payment of the April 2015 quarterly DTA had inexplicably remained in the limbo, even after Senators and members of the House of Representatives in the 7th National Assembly had received every kobo of all outstanding allowances.
An undated circular signed by Director, Personnel Management Department, Dr. I. S. Habu, on behalf of the Clerk of the National Assembly and pasted on various notice boards within the National Assembly said: “I am directed to inform all legislative aides to please be patient regarding the payment of their severance gratuity and duty tour allowance (DTA), as management is making concerted efforts to secure the funds from the Ministry of Finance.
“I am to add that as soon as the monies are released, payment will commence without any delay,” Habu’s memo had stated but while severance gratuity was paid, the outstanding duty tour allowance (DTA) remains unpaid till today and no further explanation has been given by NASS management.

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