Friday, 14 April 2017

Again, controversy trail salaries of lawmakers

The face-off between the House of Representatives and the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai has once again stimulated the debate on how much exactly a federal legislator earns. Similarly, the six months pay slip of the Speaker of the House of Representative, Hon. Yakubu Dogara published in the Media earlier in the week has thrown pundits into a frenzy with some claiming that what was shown to the public could not the true state of a legislator’s salary. The Speaker’s slip showed that he earns N346, 577. 87 monthly, with his basic salary as NN206, 425. 83. The constituency allowance also shows N 175, 461.96. Recess allowance is N20, 642.58, while a monthly PAYE deductions of N55,952 was evident. However, many Nigerians have expressed disbelieve on the payment. While reacting to the Speaker’s published payslips, the suspended former Chairman of the House Committee of Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin said: “If what I saw is the authentic pay slip of Mr Speaker, it means I earn more than him from what I see in my salary statement of account. “I have requested for my pay slip from NASS, I will publish it and my monthly salary statement of account. Perhaps I have been overpaid.” “Besides salaries, allowances and running cost, no member has details of about 20 other expenditure heads captured in Namdas statement. “I am aware majority of members feel terribly embarrassed and are presently insisting on having access to the internal budget of the House. “Mr Speaker, you know that NILS HQ is not completely funded from NASS allocation but partly funded by FG under service wide vote,” Jibrin said. But how much exactly does a federal lawmaker (House of Representatives) earn? While a member of the House earns about N2million basic salaries records show that in addition to the annual basic salary of a lawmaker, they receive a 100 percent as constituency allowance annually; members also receive 200 percent of the annual salary for accommodation, 75 percent for domestic staff, entertainment and utilities is 30 percent, while clothing or are robe allowance is 25 percent and 15 percent for Newspapers. Responsibility allowance ranges for 5 to 10 percent. Others are vehicle maintenance gulps another 75 percent, for staff like personal Assistant is 25 percent; and 5 percent for House maintenance. While aides to the principal officers’ total monthly package is between N950,000 and N500,000, five aides that lawmakers are entitled to take home between N150,000 and N450,000 monthly causing many to believe there are two sets of salaries for lawmakers: administrative and political. The two presiding officers have about 30 aides between them. A twist to the appointment of aides is that only few lawmakers employ people other than their relatives as Senior Legislative aides. More importantly, only a handful engage the services of consultants to support their legislative duties. This aside, the salaries of NASS members has always been contentious with Nigerians believing that it is unwieldy if viewed against the N18,000 minimum wage of Nigeria workers. Many have called for a review saying that while the people they represent are wallowing in abject poverty, lawmaker are living in and displaying stupendous affluence. Many reports have claimed that NASS members are the highest paid in the world with an annual basic salary of $189,500 (N30.6 m) or above. Some even adduce their payment to the high recurrent expenditure of the country. There have been calls for transparency in the budget details of the NASS to allow a glimpse into the financial allocations of the parliament, the most recent being that of the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir. He said: “Since the NASS began conceiving its budget as a single-line item, how many legislators, not to mention other citizens, have seen the details of the budget? Can anyone recall seeing the spending patterns and details in any published audited accounts of NASS recently? “How in the 21st Century can we have any national institution that is comfortable with not being subject to any oversight, audit or scrutiny. The constitutional principle of checks and balances was not introduced for purposes of idle luxury, but to ensure that every institution exercises its power in an accountable manner.” To the supposedly high salaries of its lawmakers, the National Assembly has always had a ready answer for such questions which is that its budget is only about two percent of the national budget and that it used to ensure that the remaining 98 percent is properly utilised. Earlier reports that touted the National Assembly members’ salaries as the highest in the world above the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Africa and Kenya and others. But the National Assembly has always said such reports were not reflective of the true state of the salaries situation.


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