21st June, 2010
The Action Congress (AC) has accused federal lawmakers of looting the treasury and trashing the Constitution by unilaterally awarding themselves huge perks that far outweigh what was approved for them by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the only body Constitutionally-mandated to fix public officersâ€™ pay.
In a statement issued in Benin City on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party therefore called on the RMAFC to speak up on the issue and the anti-graft agencies to immediately launch an investigation into it.
â€œThe amount approved as monthly pay by RMAFC, including all allowances, for each Senator is 929,000 Naira per month or just over 11 million Naira per annum. For each member of the House of Representatives, the approved amount is 917,000 Naira per month or about 11 million Naira per annum.
â€œBut the lawmakers unilaterally allocated to themselves, as Allowances, 27 million Naira per quarter or 9 million Naira monthly for each House of Representatives member, and 45 million Naira or 15 million Naira per month for each Senator, in addition to the amount approved by the RMAFC. It is public knowledge that they are now seeking to raise the allowance even higher.
â€œWith the illegally-approved sums of money, each Senator will pocket 720 million Naira in four years, while each House member will get 540 million Naira. These sums do not include the approved pay by RMAFC which they also collect. Apart from being illegal, it is obscene, in a country where a huge chunk of the population lives on less than 1 US dollar per day,â€™â€™ AC said.
The party said when this over-sized perks are put side by side with the equally humongous allowances of principal officers in both chambers of the National Assembly, it is clear that the federal budget is largely being used to service our lawmakers, who are now acting like the â€˜Pigsâ€™ in the book â€˜Animal Farmâ€™ by George Orwell.
â€œYet-undenied media reports said Senate President David Mark gets 250 million Naira per quarter; Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu 150 million Naira; and each of the eight remaining principal officers 78 million Naira. Little wonder that Nigerians are yet to see the dividends of democracy, over 10 years later!
â€œOurs must be the most expensive democracy on earth, and if nothing is done quickly to stem this looting tide, it may come to a time that there will be no money to run the government beyond paying the bloated salaries and allowances of our public office holders,â€™â€™ it said.
AC said all the brouhaha in the House of Representatives over alleged corruption by the leadership, or in the Senate over the huge difference between what principal officers and other Senators take, is a class fight by over-pampered folks. It has nothing to do with Nigeria or Nigerians. From top to bottom, there is no difference between one lawmaker or another.
â€œThey are busy feathering their own nests, and have been untouched by the global economic crisis or the suffering of Nigerians who supposedly voted them into office.â€
The party also said the National Assembly has lost the moral right to continue with its oversight function, since the members themselves are now engaged in treasury looting by unilaterally approving money for themselves outside what was prescribed by RMAFC.
It wondered what would happen if all the 36 Houses of Assembly also follow the footsteps of the federal legislature by awarding themselves huge pays on the whim.