Senate yesterday suspended deliberations on the report of its Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of Finance, an indication that it was not ready for a slash in the salaries and allowances of the Senators.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said after a closed-door session at the plenary that the decision was to give room for additional input from members of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.
Saraki had two months ago setup the ad-hoc committee for the purposes of cutting cost of governance through downward review of salaries and allowances of senators.
After weeks of deliberations on the onerous assignment, the 10-man committee headed by Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) submitted its report to the Senate last week, recommending slight reductions in the salaries and allowances of lawmakers.
The committee, as reliably gathered, recommended that the Senate should make public, whatever cut it has made on its finance to address the wrong perception by the Nigerian public as far as salaries and emoluments are concerned.
But the report, which was to be openly debated on the floor of the Senate, yesterday for possible adoption, was stood down for further legislative input after about two hours of closed-door session by all the senators on it.
Though Saraki, at the resumption of plenary after the closed-door session, only said that senators agreed to step down the report for further legislative input, some senators confided in newsmen that the report was stood down due to its rejection by most lawmakers.
Disclosing what transpired at the session, Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), said senators told themselves the truth on the need to be very cautious on such move.
He said though majority of the senators agreed that funny allowances like the monthly N42, 000 wardrobe allowances should be cancelled but still reasoned that substantive statutory emoluments should be sustained in the face of increasing financial requests from constituents and other Nigerians.
“Yes, as recommended by the committee, all senators agreed that there must be openness in senate budget and by extension, that of the National Assembly but at the same time, many reasoned that why should we further reduce our budget when already, N30billion has been reduced from the traditional N150billion that it used to be for all the seven different organs of the National Assembly?
“All of us have people in our constituencies and financial requests from them keep piling up on daily basis, the reality of which made steps to be redirected, otherwise, some of us may stop coming here”, he said.
However, the Chairman, Senate Ad- Hoc committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) at a media briefing, denied insinuations that the Upper Chamber is faced with challenges of cash crunch.
Melaye explained that the stepping down of the report was done in order to carry along the House of Representatives and other organs of the National Assembly since according to him, the budget of the Senate is not independent of the entire National Assembly.
He said: “The Senate today (yesterday) in a closed-door session, discussed the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Finance of the Senate, and after due deliberations by the senators, we came to the conclusion that since the budget of the Senate is not independent of the budget of the NASS, where the budget of the House of Representatives is also inclusive, we have the management, we have the NILS, we have even the Public Conduct, we also have the NASS Civil Service Commission; we have agreed that we should consult amongst other arms that share the budget of the NASS, with the HoR before we would draw a conclusion on the report.
“So, the resolution is that we are going to interface with the HoR so that we can be on the same page on the report as presented. This is the resolution of the Senate today in its closed-door session”, he explained.

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