22nd June, 2010
As expected, Nigerians have been disturbed over plans byÂ members of the National Assembly to raise their quarterly allowances above the stipulated amount approved by Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the official agency charged with the fixing of remunerations for public officers.
Right now, the legally approved total remunerations by the RMAFC for a member of the House of Representatives is N917,000 per month while a Senator is to receive N929,000 per month. By this calculation, each House of Reps member is expected to earn N11,004,000 yearly while a Senator is to earn N11,148,000 yearly.
But this is far from reality.Â Currently, a member of the House of Reps earns N9 million per month or collects N27 million quarterly, while a Senator gets N15 million monthly or pockets N45 million quarterly. This is outrageous! Apart from the fact that the huge allowances were unilaterally decided by the lawmakers and therefore illegal, it also portrays the federal lawmakers as a bunch of people who are insensitive to the plight of Nigerians who earn less than N150 daily. In this regard, we want to align with the position of the Action Congress (AC) that an investigation be launched into the present remunerations of federal lawmakers in the country.
According to the party, each Senator will pocket N720 million in four years, while each member of the House of Representatives will get N540 million. This is apart from the approved remuneration paid by the RMAFC which they also collect.
The party argued that when these oversized perks are put side by side with the outrageous allowances of principal officers in both chambers of the National Assembly, â€œit 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€
We agree with the party that ours must be the most expensive democracy in the world and this explains why Nigerians are yet to see the dividends of democracy 11 years after the system was enthroned. We agree with the AC on this subject. It is our expectations that with the poser raised by the AC, the anti-corruption agencies will swing into action.
We are calling on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission , ICPC, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions, EFCC, to take up the gauntlet and investigate the allegation of illegal approval of allowances by the lawmakers.
The EFCC, in particular should look into the accounts of the National Assembly and see whether the lawmakers followed the laws of the land in the approval of allowances for themselves. The anti-graft bodies should also probe the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly to determine whether they followed the law in approving remunerations for themselves and members.
Searchlight should also be beamed on the award of contracts by the leadership and determine whether they followed due process or not. This investigation is necessary in order to sanitise the system.