MINISTER of Finance Zainab Ahmed is to appear before the House of Representatives Finance Committee to explain the reasons behind the non-release of 2018 budgetary allocations to the National Assembly and the judiciary.
The lawmakers, though conceded that the National Assembly workers deserved a good working condition and have a right to protest poor treatment, they, however, took exception to be prevented from carrying out their legislative duties by protesting parliamentary workers on Tuesday.
The invitation to the minister followed the adoption of a motion by Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau), who expressed concern that despite being on first line charge, budget releases to the Judiciary and the legislature have been dismal, thereby creating challenges for the management to pay their workers.
House spokesman Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa) said the workers’ action, which prevented the lawmakers from holding a session, was unlawful according the Legislative Houses and Privileges Act.
He said: “It is an offence to stop the members from sitting. It is just that we cannot without them. We cannot sit aloof. The action that took place
on Tuesday is not lawful. If we apply the law, it will not be good.
“We have summoned the minister to appear before us. The money was captured in 2018 budget and it has not been released. So, we can’t give what they want because we don’t have.
“We are of the opinion that the management staff of the National Assembly should have good condition of service. For us to function effectively, we need a very functional management staff. The protest is strictly not against the members of the National Assembly.
“The CNA has also explained why. The Senate President and the Speaker do not have access to these funds.”
Regretting that it was the non-release of the funds that eventually led to the protests, Pwajok noted that “Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) protested against the non-release of their benefits, including promotions and other entitlements.
“It is disturbing that the non-release is as a result of the non-implementation of the 2018 Appropriation Act of the National Assembly despite the fact that the National Assembly and the judiciary are on the first line charge and there ought to be full implementation of the budget of the two arms of government”.
The committee was given one week to report back to the House for further legislative action after it was unanimously adopted in a voice vote.