15th June, 2010
The demand by some senators that the leadership should increase their quarterly allowance from N48 million to N98 million came as a shock to many Nigerians already impoverished by the prevailing harsh economic condition in the country.
Their reason for asking for the sharp increase, according to them, is to have enough money to prosecute their re-election next year. The senators also argued that their request can be accommodated within the current budget because â€œit contains enough padding.â€
The senators are threatening fire and brimstone, saying if their demand is not met, then they wonâ€™t allow N1 billion to be allocated to the Senate President, David Mark. Now the battle line appears to be drawn between the senators and the leadership.
We find it appalling that some senators elected to represent their people and protect their interests can be so disconnected from the true feelings and conditions of those who elected them into office.
It is indeed a sad reflection of our national life that those whom the poor masses look up to provide them succour from the grinding financial crisis are not only disinterested but are only concerned about lining their own pockets alone.
The request by these senators shows that they are not only narrow-minded but selfish. Rather than agitate for an improvementÂ of workers pay and the provision of employment to millions of youths that are currently unemployed, our â€˜distinguishedâ€™ senators are fighting for their pockets alone.
According to figures obtained from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), each senator currently earns N22,606,606.75 annually. The national minimum wage is still N7,500, which translates to N90,000 per year. quite a pittance compared to what the senators grab.
Apart from their basic salary, our senators are also entitled to N72 million furniture allowances during their tenure. This is apart from other mouthwatering allowances received by them. We find it inconceivable that these senators should be demanding for this huge allowance at a time the masses are in the throes of poverty.
What this outrageous request shows is that some of our so-called lawmakers have abandoned their basic responsibilities of formulating laws for the good governance of the country, but instead, have settled for self aggrandisement. This should not be so. The basic responsibility of a lawmaker is to make laws for the good governance of the country and ensure that the interest of the electorate is protected at all times.
It is in this regard that we call on the senators to face squarely the task of making good laws for this country. We think the most important issues facing the country now are the fight against corruption, how to improve power supply and conducting a credible election next year. Lawmakers should assist the government tackle these issues instead of asking for a frivolous increase in allowances.
It is also time our senators rose above board by being patriotic and join in the campaign to make Nigeria great. In this regard, they should display self discipline and maintain their integrity as members of the revered upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Senators need to be in tune with the current reality on ground and empathise with the electorate. Nothing should be done to portray them as being self-centred and detached from the current realities. This is the only way by which they can lay claim to being distinguished and respected by those who elected them into office.