Still on the issue of the jumbo pay Nigerian lawmakers have been getting and of which members of the 9th Assembly are also set to enjoy barring any change, there are strong indications that the federal lawmakers are determined to bring down any bill that seeks to reduce their allowances. A report by Punch Newspapers show.
According to the report, strong indications emerged on Friday that members of the 9th National Assembly may not support any bill that seeks to reduce their jumbo pay/allowances.
Recall that last year, Senator Shehu Sani had revealed that a senator earned N750,000 per month plus a monthly allowance of N13.5m.
The Punch reveals that no member of the 9th National Assembly replied in the affirmative that they would support any legislation seeking a reduction in their monthly allowance.
Many of them who spoke with the Punch on condition of anonymity said 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.”
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.”
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