Some senators-elect have described as unacceptable the high cost of running government in the country, demanding immediate review so that the incoming administration of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, can achieve meaningful development.
Specifically, the senators-elect, who spoke in separate interviews with our correspondent in Abuja, advocated a drastic reduction in the allowances accruable to top government functionaries and the lawmakers.
Ben Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa East), described as unjustifiable the fact that the National Assembly consumed three percent of the national budget.
He said, “If a company’s management spends 88 percent of its income to run the organisation, it will collapse. So, government in Nigeria at the moment is inefficient. It is now time to talk about how to reduce the cost of running the government.
“First, only the President and Vice – President must fly first class. Members of the senate, governors and ministers should fly business class. Everyone else should fly economy class. Commissioners, permanent secretaries, everybody else, should fly economy.
“When you go abroad as public servant, you stay in Holiday Inn, which is just about $200 a night. At the moment civil servants travel out of the country on official assignment and sleep in hotels worth $4,000 a night. Any government official who sleeps in such hotels should go to jail.”
Bruce said if leadership is by example and leaders live a humble lifestyle, billions of dollars would be saved to improve the lives of Nigerians and create enough jobs for the youths.
“The amount being spent on overseas treatment is enough to build a modern hospital that would be of international standard in each state capital,” he added.
Bruce pledged to sponsor a bill that would seek to reduce the cost of running the government immediately after the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly.
He said the bill would prescribe specific punishment for defaulters even as he vowed to move against any of his colleagues who would try to oppose his bill.
He said, “I am bringing a bill to that effect and I will publish names of any of my colleagues who voted against it. We will deal with them.
“I will also move a motion that all allocation accruable to the federal parliament should be published and any of my colleagues who oppose it will have his names, phone numbers, addresses and pictures published.
“Nigerians would see them and ask them why they voted against the poor. Why should a government official ride N50m jeep when they can make do with N2m Kia vehicle? The police are protecting the rich when the poor are suffering insecurity.”
Another senator-elect, Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), also pledged to champion the cause for a drastic reduction in the allowances payable to lawmakers after the inauguration in June.
He said, “I am actually championing the cause of a cut in our pay. There is a need to cut down our pay because if we talk about change, there is the need to demonstrate that change. We must sacrifice as legislators.
“Nigerians are going through a perilous time. That change is to cut down our own pay and remuneration. So instead of increasing our earning, we should enhance the committees to start proper oversight functions.
“The satanic collaboration between the executive and the legislature would not be there. When we are going for oversight function, you don’t need the MDAs to provide logistics for our movement.
“I think that should be taken seriously and everyone who means well for this country should support the cut in pay to legislators. The 8th senate should take their oversight function very seriously; fight corruption, check the executive and check themselves also.”
Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East) said legislative activities would no longer be business as usual in the 8th National Assembly if the nation must move forward.
“We will do our best not to truncate the economy of this country .We are going to ensure that peace and unity of this country still remains, yet we must play our roles,” Anyanwu said.