Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ) Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, has expressed displeasure over the payment of allowance to the Deputy Speaker of the Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun.
The ECOWAS Parliament Speaker accused Lasun, who is the leader of the Nigerian delegation, of receiving full payment of allowance without attending plenary.
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The Deputy Speaker of the Senegalese Parliament, who raised his voice during the closing ceremony of the First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, wondered why Lasun would absent himself from proceedings of the parliament and get full payment, whereas some members who attended for a number of days did not receive full payment of allowance.
But responding to Cisse Lo’s vituperation, Lasun said Cisse Lo was “playing to the gallery.”
Chief Press Secretary to Lasun, Wole Oladimeji, who spoke with Sunday Sun, said Lasun is currently in Saudi Arabia for the hajj and Cisse Lo cannot claim ignorance of that.
Oladimeji said: “He knows. Ask him whether he (Lasun) took permission from him or not. He may be playing to the gallery.”
Oladimeji further said Lasun obtained permission from the Speaker of the Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, saying that he was confident that, for the calibre of Cisse Lo, Lasun must have also done same.
Oladimeji added: “He went to Umrah. He is a Muslim. It is what he has been observing in the last 16 years. He does his fasting in Umrah. So, he has been doing it in the past 16 years. He took permission from the Speaker of the House and I know he also took permission from him. He is only playing to the gallery.”
Cisse Lo said like Lasun he also has commitments, yet decided to abandon all to stay in the country to oversea the proceedings of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Cisse Lo also said he authorized a ‘no attendance no payment’option in order to sanitize the system and also ensure proper attendance of proceedings of the parliament.
He threatened to report to President Muhammadu Buhari if any of the Members protested against the decision he took on the payment issue.
Cisse Lo said: “Lasun, who never came, is being given full payment. And he is never here. I blocked that payment.
“Yes, I lost my temper. I was out of myself. I gave authorisation because I want to have the list of attendance. I authorised it.”
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament added: “ Lasun never came and he got full payment. If he must be paid, everybody must be paid. It is not my money, but the community money.
“Lasun didn’t come and he was paid. It is not acceptable. It is not acceptable. If you protest, I will write to President Buhari.”
Commenting on the development, one of the Nigerian Delegation of Members of ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Biodun Olujimi, said Cisse Lo took the issue too personal.
Olujimi said: “For me, that was too personal because the Parliament is not to attack individuals, especially if you are a leader, you must be able to manage issues behind closed doors. You don’t need to bring anything up on the floor of the House.”
Olujimi further said the Parliament was supposed to be a place where information is distilled and formulate policies, adding that the Parliament was not a place where petty, personal issues would be brought.
Olujimi added: “I am not in favour of anyone not attending. However, the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives is a very busy person. He is put here so that he can oversee and can overlap once in a while.
“I remember that the last time he came, he was not allowed to sit. The second deputy speaker was asked to sit. I saw him, he took his book and walked away. If you treated him that way, were you going to expect him to come back?
“So, I believe the Speaker should be a lot more receptive to information and must be able to call people and talk to them and ask questions rather than come and vituperate on the floor of the Parliament.”