Edward Akinlade

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Cash crunch: Banks reject senators’ loan requests

Banks have rejected some senators’ requests for loans, following the cash crunch that is affecting the three tiers of government in the country, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

 

Our correspondents learnt on Saturday that the senators had not received salaries since their inauguration on June 9.

 

It was gathered that each of the senators had only been paid N6m housing loan, which many of them said was inadequate to get decent accommodation in Abuja.

 

Some of the senators, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said because of non-payment of their salaries, they were forced to apply for loans from banks.

 

It was, however, learnt that their requests had not been granted by the banks, which were said to have cited economic difficulties the Nigerian government is facing.

 

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Some of the senators told our correspondents that they had sourced money from their personal businesses to pay their aides’ “maintenance allowance”, with the hope that June and July salaries would soon be paid.

 

One of the senators, a Peoples Democratic Party member from the South-East, told one of our correspondents, that a bank turned down his request for a N20m loan recently.

 

The senator said the excuse of the bank was that so many high profile Nigerians were currently indebted to them and that the issue of cash crunch, which is affecting all sectors, was not helping matters.

 

He said, “The National Assembly Service Commission had only approved N6m to each of us as housing loan. What can that type of money do in a place like Abuja? It is grossly inadequate but we have taken it as a sacrifice.”

 

A female senator, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said she had yet to recover from her campaign expenses, stressing that the current financial crisis in the polity has further worsened her case, having to take care of her aides.

 

She said, “Personally, as a senator, I am very comfortable because I do not rely on National Assembly salaries to live my normal life and perform my duties as a lawmaker but I can’t be looking at my aides who are suffering.

 

“They have not received a dime since their appointments in June. Even the National Assembly staff have not received their salaries. I am currently borrowing money to pay ‘maintenance’ money to my aides.

 

“That is why most of us felt terribly bad recently when the newspapers reported that we were to receive N9bn jumbo pay each. Where will such money come from? As I speak with you, I am still expecting my car loan and we don’t know when it will come”

 

A senator from the South-West, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he had decided to limit the number of his aides to two.

 

“Until things get better, I will not have more than two aides. I have not been able to get a loan from my bank. No senator has received June and July salaries,” he said.

 

 Senate working to ensure payment

 

— Spokesman

 

The Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Media, Information and Public Affairs, Senator Dino Melaye, said the leadership of the upper chamber was currently working round the clock to pay the salaries and allowances due to the lawmakers.

 

Melaye, who did not give the specific period the money would be paid, said, “The issue of welfare of all senators is paramount to the leadership of the Senate and the Senator Bukola Saraki-led leadership is committed to it.”

 

Asked to comment on the alleged refusal of banks to approve loans for senators, the Senate’s spokesman said, “I have no information about that.”

 

Similarly, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuf Olaniyonu, said he was not aware if senators had been paid or not.

 

He advised SUNDAY PUNCH to direct its enquiries to the National Assembly Service Commission.

 

Olaniyonu said, “The Senate President is also a salary earner like his colleagues. It is the National Assembly Service Commission and the management of the National Assembly, especially the clerk, that should be able to speak on when the salaries and allowances of senators would be paid.”

 

We must be ready to sacrifice — Marfa

 

The senator representing Zamfara-Central, Kabir Marafa, said his colleagues should be able to bear the financial crisis and take it as part of their sacrifice and contribution to national development.

 

He said the sympathy of Nigerians should be directed to the civil servants, especially those who did not have alternative source of income unlike senators who were already in comfortable financial status before their elections.

 

He said, “The cash crunch is part of the global economic reality and President Muhammadu Buhari is doing everything possible to address the situation, but as senators, we have taken it as a sacrifice.

 

“We all have our individual businesses we were doing before we were elected. Being in the Senate is a national service and we have to endure the present realities. However, it will not affect the discharge of our duties as federal lawmakers.”

 

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