Abuja — An alleged paucity of funds is threatening the smooth takeoff of the Ninth House of Representatives billed to reconvene on July 2.It was learnt that about 183 first termers of the 360-member House are yet to be paid their statutory allowances to afford them decent accommodation within Abuja and settle down to discharge their legislative duties.
Between 2003 and 2007, the Apo legislative quarters built by the Federal Government were sold to former National Assembly members in line with the monetization policy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Guardian learnt that some of the lawmakers are already grumbling as the N3.5 million to be allocated to each of them for accommodation for the entire four-year period would only afford houses in far-flung Lugbe and Gwarinpa areas of Abuja. Highbrow residential areas like Maitama, Asokoro, Guzape, Jabi and Utako districts are prohibitive and way above the accommodation budgets of the honourable members.
A member of the House Ad Hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Mr. Leke Abejide, who confirmed the development in an interview with The Guardian urged the authorities to wade in to save his colleagues from facing the harrowing experience of loitering around Abuja without accommodation.
"We have not been paid a dime for our accommodation as we speak. Everybody is still hanging around. It is the National Assembly that is supposed to provide accommodation under the monetisation policy. But unfortunately, they have not monetised it yet, not a dime has been paid.
"The so-called welcome package they are talking about has not been paid. Except something is done urgently, members would have a lot of problems. Even now they are having problems because some are looking for accommodation or where to stay," he said.
Meanwhile, the PDP has condemned corrupt practices allegedly perpetrated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the election of National Assembly presiding officers last week.The opposition party has also resolved to investigate the alleged compromise of the party's position by its members in the election..
The PDP had directed its members to vote for Senator Ali Ndume as Senate President and Bago as Speaker of the House of Representatives.In a speech at the party's 86th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, said: "Our party also put up some showing during the inauguration of the National Assembly but the ruling APC came up with their 'green card' 'vote and snap' fraud that introduced an unprecedented dimension to the growing corruption index of this administration. My worry is the consequences this brazen corruption would have in the legislative activities of the 9th assembly.
"The PDP, as the main opposition party, is very uncomfortable that the level of corruption as preceded the emergence of the leadership is capable of undermining the desired robust legislative activities."Having 'purchased' the leadership of the parliament, we expect the cabal to now fully take over and dictate the show at the legislature. We have even seen the first sign of what is to come when the APC group in the Senate killed a motion to debate the June 12 speech of the imperial President."
According to him, "Only a conquered parliament with credibility challenge can shy away from discussing a major address of a president just sworn into office, but that is a sign of what is to come when choosing legislative leadership is heavily monetised by a regime that claims to be fighting corruption.
"The... that took place during the election of National Assembly leaders clearly gives a picture of the anti-corruption status and how the APC has become home for looters."
Secondus said the PDP was disappointed with "the embarrassing roles of some of our party members at the National Assembly during the election of their leaders." According to him, "party loyalty demands that you stick to your party at any given situation. When personal interest clashes with party interest, the personal should drown into that of the party, that's what real democrats are expected to do."
PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, disclosed to journalists after the NEC meeting that a decision had been taken to investigate the roles played by all party members in that election.The 86th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the PDP suffered a setback yesterday as all its 16 governors were absent. They were in the Presidential Villa attending the National Economic Council meeting.
The party's NEC meeting billed for 2:00 p.m. could not start even at 5:00 p.m., a situation which elicited a quiet protest from other party leaders present at the venue of the meeting. Secondus resorted to apologies to calm frayed nerves.Other party leaders also absent from the meeting include the PDP Presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, the immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.