ALI Ndume, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, says the Federal Government should consider a conversion of the National Assembly to a part-time legislature during amidst the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to save cost.
“As far as I’m concerned, we can make the National Assembly a part time arrangement for now since we conduct our sitting once or twice in a week these days,” Ndume said on Wednesday.
“If we make it part time, that means our salaries must be reduced.”
This is coming less than 24 hours after Ndume was reported to have called for reduction of civil servants’ salaries.
While speaking to reporters in Abuja in an interview according to The Nation, the lawmaker denied calling on the Federal Government to cut the salaries of civil servants in the country.
Ndume said he was quoted out context in the report.
According to him, public servants across the three arms of government “not working full-time” during the present pandemic should no longer be paid 100 per cent of their salaries.
“The statement credited to me was not a complete statement and I was quoted out of context,” Ndume said.
“When they asked me questions about the revised budget, I said we should fasten our belts during this pandemic due to the fall in the prices of crude oil which is the mainstay of our economy,” he added.
Ndume said he had advised the Federal Government to look critically into cutting down the cost of governance.
“I said the Federal Government should critically look into cutting down of the cost of governance,” he said.
“I called for the reduction of overhead cost, salaries of senior public servants and the recurrent expenditure. That is what I said and I still stand by it.”
The senator representing Borno South Senatorial District was reported by many media outfits (The ICIR not inclusive) that Government should critically look at the personnel and recurrent expenditure which consumes about 70 per cent of the budget.
“People should make sacrifices. This is the time to look at issues critically. But as I said, When I talk like this – and make my opinion – people look at it and call me all sorts of names. But I try to express myself,” he was quoted as said.
In his interview on Wednesday, Ndume said he couldn’t have called for the reduction of salaries of lower civil servants, because the ‘salaries are too small.’
He argued that Nigerian civil servants deserve palliatives from all tiers of government.
“As a matter of fact, Nigerian Civil Servants deserve palliatives from all tiers of government, even with their salaries,” he said.
“I maintain that since most of us who are public servants across the three arms of government are not working full time for now, our salaries should no longer be paid 100 per cent.
“Overhead should also not be 100 per cent again. All those travel allowances should stop because we are no longer traveling.
“We are operating from online now, the provision for stationery should be stopped. By that so many expenditure would have been removed.”
Explaining why he called for a part-time National Assembly, he said: “The reality is that we can’t continue in a situation like this where 70 per cent of the country’s budget is going to personnel and recurrent expenditure as if everything is okay.
“This is a time when we are borrowing to fund the budget. I didn’t say salaries of civil servants who are struggling to survive, should be slashed.”
He insisted that the government should identify public officers that can work part time and reduce their salaries.
“For example, even we in the National Assembly, for the period of this pandemic, I strongly advocate that the work of the legislature and other people should be made par time and therefore, pay them on part time basis to reduce the cost,” Ndume said.
He stressed that there are jobs that are not critical, that could be converted to part-time basis to reduce cost, noting that the jobs of medical personnel cannot be made part-time.