Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, said that contrary to insinuation, no member of the National Assembly receives jumbo pay.
The Senate President also asked the Presidency to submit the country’s annual appropriation bill in September or first week of October to enable the National Assembly to pass the budget within three months.
Lawan who spoke when he hosted the executive members of the Senators ’Forum in his office noted that the talk about senators and members of the House of Representatives receiving jumbo pay is not true.
Insisting that he is not receiving any jumbo pay, the Senate President said that his monthly take-home salary is N750,000.
He explained that funds are also provided to run his office.
He said, “We owe Nigerians everything. The National Assembly is going to be open to the public. I believe that the National Assembly will throw everything open to the public. Let Nigerians know what we are doing but one thing I want to emphasize here is that I don’t believe in anything called jumbo pay to the National Assembly.
“Members both in the Senate and the House receive what is their salary. I receive N750,000 as my salary but I need to function as a senator. My office needs to be properly funded. Therefore I cannot conduct my oversight without some funding.
“So I believe that Nigerians need to understand this. We need to continue to explain to Nigerians and I will also urge you to explain to Nigerians because they need to be kept abreast with happenings in the National Assembly.
“They deserve to know how their resources are being utilized and this is what we will continue to do. I believe that the National Assembly needs proper funding because the legislature is so critical to any development. When an institution is going to legislate on almost everything under the sun they should have the best and Nigerians should have the best outcome.
“The public also need to know what our functions and roles are. I believe that we should continue with the Open NASS. In 2018 we had the first version of the Open NASS where individuals, NGOs, were invited and we had a lot of activities with the public. We will continue with that. We will enhance it so that Nigerians can come to the National Assembly, see what we do and I believe that Nigerians would understand what we are doing here and why we attract some funding and continue to attract some funding. So we continue to do those things that will make Nigeria a stable and prosperous country where everybody would be proud to be a citizen.”
On the submission of the budget, Lawan noted that early presentation of the budget will give the National Assembly the opportunity to pass the budget within three months.
He added that early submission of the budget will enable the country to return to the January-December budget circle.
He said: “We don’t have any doubt. We know the challenges. We will work hard to solve the challenges. We will pass the budget in three months. All we require is for the Executive to submit the budget on time, at least September or first October.
“If that happens and we get it, we will pass the budget before Christmas. We need to return to the January to December budget circle.”
The noted that the National Assembly will take the oversight function seriously to ensure that heads of government agencies carry out their statutory functions effectively.
He said, “This kind of interaction is very important. It gives us the opportunity to share experiences. There are things that are challenging to us that we can share with you.
“The ninth Senate is a bipartisan Senate. What that means is that, we will remain focused and work for Nigerians. What we have done is to be patriotic. Nigeria is our constituency.
“The challenges before Nigeria are very massive. We need to work for the economy and ensure that things work for everyone.
“We don’t need to fight anyone. We will follow the path of peace. Any minister or head of an agency must function. At the end of the day, Nigerians should benefit from this.”
Chairperson of the Forum, Senator Khairat Gwadebe said that members of the Forum are always ready to support and partner the National Assembly in any capacity for the progress of the country.
She said: “You need to use your 20 years experience as a lawmaker to make a difference. Our main objective as a body is to work in strengthening the polity. We are very confident that your leadership will be good for Nigerians.”
Gwadebe added that the Forum was structured to promote good governance aimed at making the country stronger.