•Payment not illegal, say lawmakers
From Fred Itua, Abuja
One year and three months after the inauguration of the eighth National Assembly, facts have emerged that lawmakers from the two chambers, Senate and the House of Representatives, have received N6.78 billion as official salary and allowances.
According to a report by the Economic Confidential magazine, monies received by the lawmakers are in tandem with the statutory approval of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The remuneration packages include annual salaries, accommodation, vehicle maintenance and fuel, salaries of personal assistants, House maintenance, domestic staff, entertainment and utilities allowances. Other allowances are constituency allowance, annual leave, hardship allowance, wardrobe, newspapers and responsibility allowances.
The report claimed that a senator has an annual basic salaries of N2.02 million, while a member of House of Representative earns N1.98 million respectively. The basic salary of the Senate President, according to the report, is N2.48 million, while the Speaker of House of Rep is N2.47 million.
The Deputy Senate President earns N2.30 million as annual basic salary while his counterpart, Deputy Speaker earns N2.28 million annually. Additionally, the annual basic salary, each member of the National Assembly receives 200 per cent of the annual salary for accommodation, 75 per cent for vehicle maintenance, 25 per cent for Personal Assistants, 5 per cent for house maintenance, 75 per cent for domestic staff, 30 per cent for both entertainment and utilities.
Others are 25 per cent for wardrobe, 15 per cent for newspapers and responsibility allowance of between 10, 7, and 5 per cent respectively as the case may be on the position of the legislator. While each Senator reportedly receives 250 per cent for constituency allowance, a member of House of Representative gets 100 per cent for the same annually.
The Senate which has109 members gulped N1.85 billion in the last one year, while the 360 members of the House of Representatives got N4.93 billion.
According to the report, there are non-regular allowances that the federal legislators are entitled to. They include furniture and severance gratuity which are due only once in four years. Other non-regular allowances include Estacode allowances which is paid in US Dollars for foreign trips and duty tour allowance which is paid in Naira for local trips within Nigeria.
But the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdurazak Namdas, who spoke with our correspondent yesterday, dismissed the report, maintaining that allowances earned by lawmakers were not illegal.
He said their statutory salaries and allowances were fixed by RMAFC. According to him, the public was being misled to believe that lawmakers were earning illegal salaries and allowances.
“Why do people always take pleasure in attacking the National Assembly? There are other government officials who receive salaries and allowances too. Why do they single out National Assembly? Government officials from the federal to local government levels receive their salaries and allowances. Nobody talks about it. Why us?,” he queried.