Amid claims and counter-claims that the country is cash-strapped, the Senate, yesterday had its dose of the problem following the delay in the payment of its fourth quarter allocation. Daily Sun learnt that the delay has left some of the Senators stranded in Abuja.
Meanwhile, legislative activities in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly were at the lowest ebb on Wednesday, following the participation of some lawmakers in the ongoing Hajj.Senate spokesman, Eyinnaya Abaribe, had on Tuesday announced the postponement of plenary till October 22.
The belief was that the postponement would allow standing committees devote more time to pending assignments. The reverse was the case, Wednesday, as some committees also suspended the submission of their reports or sittings as many of their members had gone on the hajj.
For instance, the report of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service on the National Assembly Service Commission Act Cap N7 2004 (Repeal and Enactment) Bill, 2013, could not be presented to the Senate on Tuesday because the members were not available.
Also affected were reports on National Health Bill, which had already been prepared by the Senate Committee on Health and that of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions which dealt with petitions from 39 staff of National Judicial Institute, over alleged wrongful termination of their appointments.
Yesterday, the Senator Smart Adeyemi-led Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had postponed its public hearing on the “Conveyance and Law of Property Act, 1881, as applicable in the FCT.” Stakeholders and journalists who had gathered at the venue of the hearing as early as 10 am, went home disappointed when Adeyemi announced around 1pm that the event had been postponed, after only three members of the committee were present.
He told those present that the event was postponed because the public hearing also involved the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Umaru Dahiru and other members who are already in Saudi Arabia. “It may not make sense to proceed with this public hearing since many of the relevant stakeholders at both committee levels and even at the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), are not in the country presently on account of hajj.
“As soon as we are back from the Sallah recess, we shall reschedule the date for the public hearing where all the relevant stakeholders will be present”, Adeyemi said.
Beyond the Sallah recess however, Daily Sun also learnt that the National Assembly decided to go on break earlier than usual, partly due to their failure to get their allocation for the fourth quarter of the year.
A ranking member, who does not want to be mentioned, said the delay in payment of their allowances has impacted on their preparations for Sallah. “What do you want us to do when we have not been paid the allocation for the fourth quarter of 2013? Most of us have responsibilities in our constituencies, which bothers on money. Now that the Sallah is around, we cannot go home empty-handed, telling our people stories,” he.
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja