The allegation in a national newspaper that national lawmakers were going to receive N8.64 billion as wardrobe allowance shared N21.5 million per senator and N17.5 million per representative, has been refuted by Engr. Elias Mbam, the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.
Engr. Mbam stated most authoritatively that wardrobe allowance for senators is 25 percent of annual basic salary, ABS. With the official (RMAFC) report that the ABS of a senator is only N2.026 million, then the wardrobe allowance per senator is N506, 600 per annum.
However, his refutation does not and cannot close the issue of the unlawful, outrageous and sinful compensation of national lawmakers in Nigeria.
The following facts cannot be denied.
•We have 109 senators and 360 representatives making 469 members of the National Assembly.
•The 2013 budget of the National Assembly was about N150 billion.
•The 2014 budget was about N150 billion.
•The 2015 budget is about N120 billion due to the fall of crude oil prices.
•Arithmetically, it cost us averagely, N320 million per lawmaker in 2014.
•Similarly, it will cost averagely, N255 million per lawmaker in 2015.
Now a senator naturally costs more than a representative but these are gross averages per National Assembly member based on the NASS budget.
Published reports in national newspapers allege that in 2014, each senator got N45 million quarterly allowance. This amounts to N180 million per year per senator.
Other reports indicate that, senators get 200 per cent ABS as housing allowance; 300 per cent ABS as furniture allowance; 800 per cent ABS car loan and so many other allowances including leave, entertainment, newspaper, staff, etc.
Consequently, it can be estimated based on the NASS budget and published reports, that, each senator earns over N200 million per annum. This is most definitely sinful in a country where the minimum wage is only N18, 000 per month (N216, 000 per annum).
Engr. Elias Mbam stated most authoritatively that wardrobe allowance for senators is 25 per cent of ABS. With the RMAFC report that the ABS of a senator is N2.026 million, then the wardrobe allowance per senator is N506, 600 per annum.
Comparing with one of the richest countries in the world (United States of America), the President of US earns $400,000 (N80 million) per annum and a US senator earns $174,000 (N34.8 million) per annum.
It can be seen that a Nigerian senator not only earns six times more than a US senator, but also could be earning two and half times more than the US president could. This must be investigated and corrected immediately!
This unlawful and sinful compensation of national lawmakers also aggravates the inequality index. In the US, minimum wage is about $10,000 per annum. Ipso facto, a US senator earns only 17.4 times the US minimum wage but in Nigeria, a senator earns almost 1,000 times minimum wage. This sinful and unacceptable compensation of political office holders in Nigeria aggravates the ‘Inequality Index’ and must not be tolerated further.
The National Conscience Party (NCP) had proposed during the presidential campaigns to, ‘Increase minimum wage by reducing the maximum wage’, to correct this outrageous anomaly.
The estimates we used here will not be necessary if we had transparency in the compensation of political office holders. We must ensure that the compensation of public officeholders is published accurately.
Some political parties had filed a suit in the past to compel the National Assembly to disclose the compensation of its members but they have not succeeded yet.
According to the HRH Lamido Sanusi (former CBN Governor), “The biggest problem in National Assembly, NASS, is not the salaries or allowances. It is a very big item in the NASS budget called overheads. What they do is pack that item in the appropriation bill and then “collapse” it according to a pre-agreed formula. A certain percentage is shared among the leadership.
Another portion is given to the management to cover genuine overheads. The rest is shared among members”. This allegation must also be investigated thoroughly, most urgently.
We can then imagine what the President of Nigeria earns if he can allow lawmakers to continue to earn these unlawful, outrageous and sinful sums as compensation.
Martin Onovo is a member of National Conscience Party

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