The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has said the presidential system of government was not designed for poor countries like Nigeria.
He has, therefore, advocated the reversion to the parliamentary system of government as a means of reducing the cost of governance in the country.
Ndume, who stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, also clarified that the lower cadre civil servants were not his target when he called on the government to slash salaries of public servants.
Ndume, who represents Borno South in the National Assembly, said he wouldn’t have called for the reduction of junior civil servants when he knew that they actually needed palliative to survive, even with their full salaries.
He said, “I did not ask the Federal Government to slash the salaries of civil servants across the board during an interview I granted in Maiduguri.
“The statement credited to me was not a complete statement and I was quoted out of context. When they asked me questions about the revised budget, I said we should fasten our belt during this pandemic due to the fall in the prices of crude oil which is the mainstay of our economy.
“I said the Federal Government should critically look into cutting down the cost of governance. 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. Taking cognisance of the fact that the salaries of the lower cadre civil servants are too small, I couldn’t have called for its further reduction.
“As a matter of fact, Nigerian civil servants in lower cadre deserve palliative from all tiers of government, even with their salaries.
“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.
“The overhead should also not be 100 per cent again. Travel allowances should stop because we are not traveling again. We are operating an online arrangement now, the provision for stationery should be stopped.
“By that, so many expenditures would have been moved.”
Ndume said to further reduce the cost of governance during the current pandemic, it is proper for the National Assembly to start running a part-time arrangement now.
He said, “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.
“If we make it part-time, that means our salaries must be reduced. 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.
“If under these critical circumstances where 70 per cent of the budget goes to recurrent expenditure and overhead, then the government should really sit down and critically look at it.
“The government should identify public officers that can work part-time and reduce their salaries.