National Assembly’s remunerations: It’s a matter of conscience

The fairy tale that is making the rounds is that some senators earn between N12m and N13m per month, when these annual remunerations are broken down into calendar months. Neither the British Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, the American nor President Putin of the Russian Federation can boast of such largesse.

At the onset of a new administration in Nigeria, it is appropriate to have a new look at many things that bedevil the nation. Apart from those that are apparent, there is one issue which continues to evade public attention. The lack of information and interest by the public on the total remuneration, including take home pay of our Senators and Members of the House of Representative is one of those unpardonable lapses by Nigerians.

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Members of the National Assembly, like all federal elected or appointed Nigerians, are all political office holders. By this classification, they are paid by tax payers, personal or corporate. Nothing should be shrouded in mystery about the benefits these public servants and others take from the national till.

In point of fact, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, is charged with the responsibility, among others, of determining the remuneration of all political office holders (from Councillor of a local government to the President of the Republic) and also to judicial officers.

This remuneration package is expected to be passed through the Presidency to the National Assembly for enactment into law. Both the President and the National Assembly are constitutionally barred from increasing the recommended remuneration by one kobo but could reduce it as they may find it fit.

Unfortunately, fellow Nigerians, the above constitutional provision has been routinely and shamelessly flouted by our lawmakers, who sometimes double as “law breakers”. I am not sure of any recommendation of the Revenue Commission that enables a senator or a member of the House of Representatives to earn N3million per month. But because of the cloud of doubt which envelopes certain aspects of the working of the National Assembly, nobody seems to care to know details of their take home pay.

The height of impunity was demonstrated by the Clerk of the National Assembly who allegedly refused to give details to a committee set up by government or even to a judicial body. In better climes, this would be completely unacceptable.

The fairy tale that is making the rounds is that some senators earn between N12m and N13m per month, when these annual remunerations are broken down into calendar months. Neither the British Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, the American President nor President Putin of the Russian Federation can boast of such largesse.

And when you compare our society, its poverty level, economic degradation, high level of unemployment, decaying or malfunctioning infrastructures, I begin to wonder what kind of society we are. There must be a change, yes, our rulers must be transparent and meet international standard of integrity, transparency and accountability.

Obviously, President has many problems on his laps. It is because of the existence of these problems that he was massively supported during the last election. He shall not be heard to be weary or hesitant in taking appropriate remedial actions.
Interestingly, one of the purported amendments which the last National Assembly sent for former President, Goodluck Jonathan’s signature was a life long pension scheme of the principal officers of the two Houses.

This would mean some smart fellows who were precariously commissioners, ministers, governors and laterly senators would receive (not earn) long life pension of N10m per month. If this is not milking the nation dry, I don’t know what else it is. Mercifully, our own Dr Jonathan refused to sign into law this amendment which in any case did not pass through the constitutional procedures expected of the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly.

The question then arises: Why should our rulers, that is people at the top, always feel free to provide for themselves at the expense of the larger society? Oversight functions, constituency projects, etc, are avenues for direct stealing.

When a Committee of the National Assembly is set up to probe an erring MDA, the latter will be requested to provide funds which must have been provided for by the National Assembly ab initio. To me, there is no corruption that can match the one being perpetrated by our ‘elected’ rulers.
It is nauseating; they do it with bravado and impunity and if the executive had the effrontery of asking questions, the next thing is conspiracy for impeachment.

No, it can’t continue! Nigeria must be saved from less than one per cent of the population that appropriates more than 10% of our national wealth. We must know what our National Assemblymen earn. There must be a change. Let PMB start from the National Assembly, we will all line up behind him.

Written by Chief Deji Fasuan, a senior citizen, wrote from Ekiti State.



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