Saraki, Dogara get severance pay, aides lament
Members of the 8th National Assembly led by bukola saraki as President of the senate and Yakubu Dogara as speaker of the House of Representatives have received their severance allowances but many of their aides have yet to be paid, The PUNCH has learnt.
Many of their aides have, however, still not been paid seven months after the last National Assembly terminated.
While some aides still work with their re-elected bosses, others whose bosses lost their bids for re-election into the 9th Assembly have either lost their jobs or now serve other lawmakers.
It was also gathered that the National Assembly management has yet to clear the salary arrears allegedly owed aides of members of the 9th National Assembly.
The PUNCH had reported on December 15, 2019, that President of the senate, Ahmad Lawan; and speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, were on a collision course with the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed sani-omolori, over non-payment of the lawmakers aides.
The aides to the lawmakers, alleged that though their appointments were made between June and July 2019, they had only been paid three months; October, November and December.
The Director of Public Affairs, Office of the Clerk, Nass, Mr Yahaya Dan-zaria, had said the management could only defend payments made based on the appointment letters issued to the aides. He added that the NASC did not recognise the alleged unofficial resumption by the workers.
The severance package is reportedly N23.7bn but our correspondent could not ascertain, as of sunday, how much each of the ex-lawmakers was paid.
In an exclusive report by The PUNCH on August 2, 2019, a former member of the senate, senator soji Akanbi, had said the money was “about N7m, which is not even enough to assist many of our constituents who need urgent help.”
Another lawmaker had said those in the House would receive “up to N6m each.”
However, according to the Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders, as designed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, senators, members of the House and a category of legislative aides are entitled to 300 per cent of their annual basic salaries as severance pay.
An average member of the senate or a member of the House has five legislative aides, indicating that senators and representatives have a total of 545 and 1,800 aides, respectively, excluding the four presiding officers who have additional aides.
An aide to one of the presiding officers of the 8th Assembly, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his boss and other lawmakers had since been paid. He lamented that he and other aides had yet to receive their severance allowances.
The aide said, “Nobody (aide) that I know or have contacted has confirmed being paid. Should they be paying it gradually? Was it not budgeted for in 2019? What people are suspecting is that the money was fixed (in an account). If they had not paid the lawmakers since, the whole world would have known. They settled their own (allowance) way back in August and september, 2019.
And it is the same money – same budget – for the lawmakers and the aides. but there is no aide that I know that has been paid.”
speaking on the issues, the National Assembly Legislative Aides’ Forum, confirmed that payment of severance allowances to aides had begun but that the management had yet to pay salary arrears to those presently in service.
The General secretary of NASSLAF, Mr Michael Oladipo, dismissed the claims by the management that several aides resumed work without being formally appointed by the National Assembly service
The NASSLAF scribe stated that several lawmakers could not notify the NASC of the appointment of aides as they were still defending their legislative seats in court.
Oladipo said, “They have paid our severance (allowance) and it is still ongoing; they have yet to pay all the aides. They are currently paying. The real issue that could bring labour disharmony with the 9th National Assembly is the deliberate refusal by the management not to pay the arrears of salaries owed aides, particularly with the benefit of hindsight; they know that aides resume with their principals irrespective of when such letters were issued between June (11, 2019) when the Assembly was inaugurated and December 2019.”
An aide to one of the current presiding officers in the National Assembly, however, disclosed that apart from the delay that had lasted over six months, the beneficiaries were complaining about the mode of payment adopted by the management.
The source said, “There is a new development about severance allowance for aides of the 8th National Assembly. someone at the CNA’S office informed me that the money has come but these civil servants want to play a fast one.
The civil servants are insisting on paying state-by-state, instead of bank-by-bank, meaning that they will start a new process of sorting out their states, whereas the committee recommended that they be paid bank-by-bank and this had been sorted out.”
When contacted, the Director of Information, Nass, Mr Rawlings Agada, said he could not confirm the current status of severance allowance payment or salary arrears.
“I cannot confirm that. I am out of town. It is not impossible but I cannot confirm that to you,” he said.