Senate President, Bukola Saraki, disclosed yesterday that contrary to widespread perception that the National Assembly is being overfunded, the third arm of government, is indeed, finding it difficult to carry out its statutory functions.
Indication had earlier emerged that the National Assembly is in financial mess when Office of the Senate President announced on August 10, 2017 the sacking of Saraki’s 98 aides.
The office, explained that most of the officials affected were those posted from the National Assembly Service Commission, who were deployed back to the service.
It said the exercise was to reposition the office for efficient service delivery.
It was further gathered that those affected were issued sack letters through the Chief of Staff to the President of the Senate, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in batches.
The Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, while briefing journalists on the development, said the downsizing was based on Saraki’s discretion based on the judgment of a review committee.
Meanwhile, Saraki, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, yesterday disclosed that Saraki owned up to the financial difficulty when he paid a working visit to the chairman and members of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) at their temporary office located in Utako, Abuja.
Responding to the request of the chairman of the commission, Mallam Adamu Fika, to have a permanent office of the commission inside the National Assembly complex, Saraki pledged the support of the leadership towards the project, while noting that adequate funding remains a major challenge of the National Assembly.
Saraki said: “One of the things that I see here today is the issue of budgetary constraints. However, the impression around the country is often that the National Assembly has too much money. But we have seen the challenges of the last few years.
“As we work through the number of bills passed, the public hearings held, and the number of ad-hoc committees that have been established — we know the challenges of not being able to fund some of our activities.
“So far, I am happy to report that despite these constraints, the 8th Senate has been able to surpass all previous Senates in the number of Bills that we have passed in two-years — despite the funding gaps.
“We know that as we continue over time, people will begin to have more confidence in the National Assembly. However, right now, the challenges that we have are the issue of perception, and the issue of funding. We need to work hard to change this,” he said.
Saraki, who is also the chairman of the National Assembly, further noted that it has not been easy for Nigerians to appreciate the various roles of the legislature as an arm of government being the youngest of the three arms of government.
“Therefore, we all have a lot of work in trying to make the people appreciate the role of the legislature in our democracy,” Saraki said. “This has not been easy, this is why I am sure that working with the commission, we can work towards this together so that we can improve the image of the National Assembly.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the NASC, Dr. Adamu Fika, lamented that the commission still operates from a rented apartment with the attendant cost.
He enjoined the leadership of the National Assembly to come to its aid by supporting it to build a befitting permanent office within the National Assembly complex.
He, however, commended Saraki for being the first President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly to have visited the office of the commission.