9TH ASSEMBLY: ORJI KALU, GOJE, AMOSUN, OTHERS TO POCKET N273.64BN IN FOUR YEARS
Posted By: Dj Devoskid
on June 22, 2019
Four hundred and sixty five members of the 9th National Assembly, including Senators Orji Kalu, Danjuma Goje and Ibikunle Amosun, would have received N273.64bn by the time their tenure ends in June 2023, should the current law on remuneration of political office holders and the tradition that held sway in the 8th National Assembly remain, an analysis has shown.
This package excludes what the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and his deputy, Ahmed Wase, will get because their earnings as principal officers are calculated differently from what other members of the National Assembly get.
An analysis of the statistics of lawmakers’ earnings carried out by our correspondents showed that each member of the Senate would get as much as N728.25m in emolument for the four years they would spend in the red chambers.
This will take the earnings of 107 senators, excluding the President of the Senate and his deputy to N77.92bn in four years.
On the other hand, each member of the House of Representatives will get as much as N546.7m in four years. This means that 358 members (excluding the Speaker and Deputy Speaker) of the green chamber will get N195.72bn within the four-year tenure.
A breakdown of a senators’ package shows that each of the lawmakers will get N648m from overhead payment at the rate of N162m per annum or N13.5m a month.
From salaries and regular allowances, a senator is entitled to N51, 065,280 in four years at the rate of N12, 766,320 per annum or N1, 063,860 a month.
The regular allowances are paid lawmakers on a monthly basis along with their salaries. The regular allowances are calculated as percentage of the salaries and include motor vehicle maintenance and fuelling. This is pegged at 75 per cent of their monthly salary.
Others are personal assistant – 25 per cent; domestic staff – 75 per cent; entertainment – 30 per cent; utilities – 30 per cent; newspapers/periodicals – 15 per cent; wardrobe – 25 per cent; house maintenance – five per cent; constituency – 250 per cent.
The irregular allowances that senators are entitled to include accommodation, furniture, recess and severance. From accommodation which is paid once a year, a senator will get N16, 211,200 in four years at the rate of N4, 052,800 per annum.
The furniture allowance is paid once in tenure and is put at N6, 079,200. Recess allowance is paid once a year and from it a senator will get N810, 560 in four years at the rate of N202, 640 per annum. Severance allowance is paid at the successful completion of the tenure and for a senator; the amount is N6, 079,200.
A member of the House of Representatives, on the other hand, will get N480m from overhead payment at the rate of N120m per annum or N10m a month.
From salaries and regular allowances, a Rep is entitled to N38, 116,152.24 in four years at the rate of N9, 529,038.06 per annum or N794,086.83 a month.
From accommodation, a Rep is entitled to N15, 881,700 in four years at the rate of N3, 970,425 per annum. A Rep is entitled to a furniture allowance of N5, 955,637.5 once in four years and is also entitled to a similar amount as severance allowance on successful completion of tenure. For recess, a Rep is entitled to N794, 085 in four years at the rate of N198, 521.25 per annum.
Any lawmaker that desires can also get a loan to purchase a vehicle. For this, a senator is entitled to N8, 105,600 while each Rep is entitled to N7, 940,850.50. This, however, is not part of the summed package as the loan is supposed to be refunded by the end of the tenure.
There are other entitlements that they are not paid directly for but provided and paid for by the government. These are special assistants, security and legislative aides.
What this means is that those engaged in these capacities are paid directly by the government as the allowances cannot be claimed by political office holders. These allowances apply to senators and Reps.
Medical expenses are also borne by the government when they have need for such services.
The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance and estacode (when they travel abroad). For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37, 000 per night and estacode of $950 per night.
For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35, 000 per night and estacode of $900 per night.
Theoretically, the package of an ordinary lawmaker is greater than what the principal officers (President of the Senate and Deputy President and Speaker of House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker) get.
This is because most of the allowances for which the lawmakers are paid, the principal officers do not get money for them but have the items fully provided by the state. Such services include accommodation, furniture, motor vehicle maintenance and newspapers.
It has also not been disclosed what the principal officers get as overhead payment as this package is outside the prescription of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission but a private arrangement between the lawmakers and the management of the National Assembly.
Although many Nigerians have described the salaries and allowances of lawmakers as outrageous, others think the problem is payment of overhead package to the lawmakers without prescription in the Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders 2007.
Returning Chairman of RMAFC, Mr Elias Mbam, had told one of our correspondents in the past that the management of the National Assembly should be held responsible for any payment to lawmakers outside the prescription of RMAFC.
Mbam said RMAFC had power to prescribe what political office holders should get but lacked the power to monitor what they get as each arm of government had bureaucracies that implement payment to public office holders concerned.
Federal lawmakers may kill bill seeking allowance reduction — Investigation
Strong indications emerged on Friday that the National Assembly members might not support any bill seeking to reduce their allowances.
Senator Shehu Sani last year revealed that a senator earned N750,000 per month plus a monthly allowance of N13.5m.
No member of the 9th National Assembly told Saturday PUNCH on Friday that they would support any legislation seeking to reduce their monthly allowance.
Many of them who spoke on condition of anonymity told our correspondents that such a bill would not scale through in any of the chambers.
A South-West senator said it was not possible for any of his colleagues to undertake the assignment of presenting such a bill on the floor.
He said, “I am not discouraging the civil society organisations from coming up with such a bill. The point I am stressing is that it would be a waste of time after all.
“I can assure you that none of us will shoulder the responsibility of coming to the floor to present it.”
A North-West senator said even if the bill was presented on the floor it would not be supported.
He said, “I cannot say that any lawmaker seeking cheap publicity will not present the bill on behalf of the CSOs but it will just be a mere academic exercise.”
A member from the South-East in the House of Representatives said he would not support the bill.
He said, “Whose interest are the sponsors of the bill trying to satisfy? Definitely not the interest of my constituents.
“My people who contact me regularly for financial assistance in one form or another will never pray that my sources of income should diminish.
“The proponents of such wicked legislation are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. They are looking for cheap publicity.
“They should go elsewhere for that. Definitely not in the National Assembly.”
Also, a Rep from the North-West said his experience in the last election was an indication that such a bill would never fly.
He said, “We spent hundreds of millions of naira to provide empowerment for our people in the last four years, apart from the regular financial support for many individuals.
“Surprisingly, when we approached the same people, seeking their votes, they made financial demands that forced many of us to resort to taking bank loans.
“As I am talking to you now, many of us are bankrupt. Is it the same set of people that will present such a bill?”
A senator from the South-South said, “The executive arm of government is wasting the nation’s resources and Nigerians are not looking at their direction.
“Do you know how much the executive spend to maintain a minister who is just a mere appointee of the President?
“The sponsors of that bill will not see those things but would prefer to attack lawmakers who spent fortunes to get elected to parliament.”
The Senate has no spokesperson at the moment.
Calls made to the mobile phone of the interim spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, Hajia Khadija Bukar, were not responded to on Friday.
She had also yet to reply to the text message sent to her as of the time of filing this report.
Adeyeye justifies senators’ jumbo pay
However, the All Progressives Congress member representing Ekiti South in the National Assembly, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, said lawmakers needed adequate funds to perform their roles effectively.
He stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja.
Adeyeye said, “The minister is supported with adequate funds to perform in the ministry; a similar treatment should be accorded the senators too.
“The office of a federal lawmaker should have its budget. Their office should be seen as a cost centre too just like that of a minister.
“They should have adequate supporting staff even if the numbers are not up to those of the ministers. In advanced democracies like America, a senator could have up to 30 aides which may include two or three professors and other highly qualified people working for him.
“The money accruable to a senator in America may not be as high as that of Nigeria but the budget for his office is 10 times higher than that of a senator in Nigeria.
“The earnings of a Nigerian senator is not for him personally but for the running of his offices in the National Assembly and constituency.
“But people see it as money being earned by an individual, whereas it is for the office of a senator which should be seen as an institution.
“For instance, I need at least 10 qualified aides to be working with me. I don’t think that the budget of the National Assembly is opaque as people want to believe. I think it is not enough to take care of the lawmakers’ offices. The budget of the National Assembly is not secret people should find out how it is being appropriated.”
Asked whether he would support the reduction of the allowances of the lawmakers, Adeyeye said such would be counter-productive.
He said, “By reducing the salaries and allowances of the National Assembly members, you are crippling their capacity to perform their legislative functions.
“By so doing, it will never be in the interest of the nation. Many of us condemned members of the National Assembly in the Second Republic for earning big salaries but when the military took over, we thought that they would use the money saved from the lawmakers’ allowances which would no longer be paid to them and do something good for the nation but we were disappointed because the military did nothing spectacular with the money.”
ACF, SMBLF, Ohanaeze, PANDEF, IYC ask lawmakers to cut jumbo pay
The five major socio-political groups in the country have asked lawmakers to cut their jumbo allowances if they truly have the interest of the nation at heart.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Ohanaeze, Ijaw Youths Council and Arewa Consultative Forum spoke with Saturday PUNCH in separate interviews.
The SMBLF spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said the issues confronting the nation could not be addressed without an overhaul of the system.
He said the executive arm was also earning huge allowances while the citizens were wallowing in poverty.
Odumakin said politics in the country had become a criminal enterprise which had attracted people feeding fat on the commonwealth.
He said, “The truth of the matter is that lawmakers are earning crazy, humongous allowances. You saw how the 9th Assembly members elected their leaders, how they were snatching ballot papers.
“So, the whole thing has become a terrible bazaar. Politics has become a big game, more or less like a criminal enterprise in Nigeria. Today, many of the people who were involved in advance fee fraud are moving into politics. What they are taking is abhorrent in the midst of poverty, it is about what they can get and not what they can do for the people.”
PANDEF also flayed the Federal Government for not doing anything to reduce the allowances and salaries being paid to members of the executive and legislature.
PANDEF National Secretary, Dr Alfred Mulade, stated that the allowances of lawmakers and other officials could take care of the infrastructure deficit.
He added, “The new leadership should address the high cost of governance. After all, we have been told this is a government of change and if it is, then the right thing should be done.
But the pan-Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, advised Nigerians calling for a slash in the jumbo pay received by federal lawmakers to channel their call to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
Its spokesperson, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, told one of our correspondents on Friday that the responsibility to review the allowances of National Assembly members rested on the commission and not the lawmakers who desire better pay.
The Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr Chuks Ibegwu, said the allowances paid members of the Assembly should be reduced.
He also said the number of the National Assembly members should be reduced to 37 senators and 74 members of the House of Representatives, with two coming from each state and one from the Federal Capital Territory.
The IYC said based on the economic realities in the country, a federal lawmaker should not earn more than N400,000 per month.
According to the IYC President, Eric Omare, since a professor does not earn more than N450,000 monthly, there is no reason why a federal lawmaker should earn N1m per month.
He said, “The question of excessive pay for lawmakers is really overdue. Over the years, Nigerians have called for transparency in the amount that is paid to federal lawmakers. The amount that is paid them so far is too much when you consider what is paid the ordinary worker.”
In a statement, the ACF blamed the Olusegun Obasanjo administration for the federal lawmakers’ big eanings.
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