Legislators’ Pay: Nigerians Express Divergent Views

•Bukola Saraki

•Bukola Saraki

A cross-section of Nigerians on Friday expressed divergent views over disagreement among senators to approve pay cut in their emolument as recommended by the Senate’ Committee on Finance.

The Senate had on Wednesday, suspended consideration of the Sen. James Manager’s committee’s report following disagreement by members on its recommendation of a slash in their remuneration.

Some of those who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) supported the move for downward review of the salaries and allowances of the lawmakers while others queried the rationale behind the proposal.

Mr Peter Abraham, a lecturer at the National Open University of Nigeria, said that contrary to public perceptions, what the legislators earned was nothing near what those in the Executive arm of government earned.

“I wonder why Nigerians are always quick to cast aspersion on the pay of the National Assembly members and legislators in states’ Houses of Assembly.

“If you know what the president and his aides, ministers, governors and even local government council chairmen earn, you will know that legislators are less corrupt.

“Just look at the fraud called Security Vote; nobody knows what the executives allocate to themselves as security votes and you wonder what they are even securing.

“The whole security vote is shrouded in secrecy. Also, these executives sometimes have bogus aides called special advisers, special assistants, senior special advisers, senior special assistants, who do nothing.

“It is in this country that some state governors had 3,000 special advisers that they don’t even know and who did nothing other than collect monthly salaries,” he said.

•Bukola Saraki
•Bukola Saraki

Ms Taire Nwachukwu, a staff member of a commercial bank, said that the pay cut should be across the board among the executive, legislative and the judiciary arms of government.

“I work at the bank and what we see about the way these governors, ministers and even council chairmen move money is baffling.

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“I think what the lawmakers earn is not too much compared with their obligations to their constituents.

“Lawmakers are closer and more approachable to the people than the executives. So how do we expect them to service these dependents without commensurate pay?” she said.

However, an unemployed man, Jude Ode, called for the abrogation of bi-cameral legislature in Nigeria to be replaced with unicameral legislature.

He also called for the payment of legislators on part-time basis, asking ‘’how can legislators, who are less than 500 people, take about 10 per cent of the country’s annual budget meant for 180 million people?

“How can an arm of government decide its budget, sit over it, approve it and expend it without anybody’s input to serve as a check?’’

“As an unemployed, when I consider all these amidst the abject poverty in this country, I realise that it is not sustainable or the system will collapse,” Ode said.

On his part, Umar Mustapha, a taxi driver, called on the legislators to emulate President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who cut their salaries by half.

Mustapha said that there was so much poverty in the land and there was the need for the nation’s resources to go round.

“It is an offence against the common man and a sin against God for one per cent to be amassing more than half of what belongs to everybody.

“I am a graduate but there is no employment in the land.

“Companies have become comatose and pensioners cannot eat the fruit of their labour. This should change,” he said.

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