Femi Ajayi's Outlook

Imagine a Senator's quarterly allowance is raised from N45 million to N95 million, an equivalent of a monthly salary for an organization of about 1,000 employees. That means that an employee with about N48,000.00 monthly pay might have to work for more than 80 years to earn what Nigerian Senator takes home quarterly. These allowances amounts are enough to construct all the roads in Ekiti Local Government of Kwara State and maintain them for the next 5 years if properly constructed.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010



Prof. Femi Ajayi

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HOW NATIONAL ASSEMBLY UNDERDEVELOPED NIGERIA NASCENT DEMOCRACY

ince members of the National Assembly rebuffed passing the Freedom of Information Bill, Nigerians might rely on stories flying around about the package for members of the Nigerian National Assembly. It is alleged that 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives are jacking up their quarterly allowances from N45m to N95m. In another development if it is factual that the Nigerian Senator annual salary is N29, 479,749.00 per annum, besides the heavy allowances Nigeria is ruined for ever.


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Another angle reported that members of Nigerian National Assembly are asking for the humongous allowances of N17million and N14.88 million for Senators and House of Representatives respectively in addition to their basic regular and legitimate annual salaries and allowances. This is in addition to other irregular allowances of estacodes, duty tours, sick allowances, domestic allowances, office impress, and furniture allowances. Haba! The National Assembly members want to dry up the country.

The quarterly allowances they are asking for are not provided for by the Revenue and Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission. We would not blame the school that calls them looters because none of them opposed to the jumbo allowances. Unfortunately those who dared challenge that were castigated. Senator Nuhu Aliyu from Niger State was stopped from revealing the names of the looters, drug barons, 419ers and Yahooers in their midst. His backing out earned him the nickname 'Chicken Nugget'.

By way of confusion, the Nigerian President earns N3.5million annual basic salary why should any other political or public office holder earn more than the Nigerian President.

Imagine a Senator's quarterly allowance is raised from N45 million to N95 million, an equivalent of a monthly salary for an organization of about 1,000 employees. That means that an employee with about N48,000.00 monthly pay might have to work for more than 80 years to earn what Nigerian Senator takes home quarterly.

These allowances amounts are enough to construct all the roads in Ekiti Local Government of Kwara State and maintain them for the next 5 years if properly constructed. Ironically, an average Nigerian mentality would be the first to start singing praises of these Senators when they show up in their bullet proof jeeps for mortgaging their life.

The members of the Nigerian National Assembly have mortgaged the entire life of an average Nigerian by the jumbo pays they picked up from their no good services to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What ought to have been part time is being made full time with double pay for their non-services to the country. Instead the aggrieved members of the House of Representatives resolved into fist fighting over the booties at the National Assembly.

What would stop the almighty Nigerian Labor Union from agitating for more wages? No government could prevent agitation for increase in wages by Nigerians, when a Nigerian Senator earns more salary than the President of United States of America.

Honestly you can read poverty in the face of an average Nigerian, where anything goes in the name of survival. The Pensioners died in perpetual hunger, while the milkers of their labor could boast of a yacht in the country where some indolent leaders exist. The Nigerian lawmakers are keenly interested in sharing fake entitlements under constituency allowances.

Nigerians might start asking the accomplishments of a Local Government Councilor who goes home with N1m monthly. That is beside the allocation for their wives. The money that ought to have been spent on improving the life of the community is being spent on unscrupulous Nigerian public officials.

Pensioners Ordeal at Verification exercise in Nigeria

The community should out rightly REFUSED any gifts purchased under the pretence of Constituency allowances from the Law Makers. The roads are bad, not enough adequate health care services in their communities. Water is hard to get, power supply is within the leprosy camp; the environment is so filthy that it cut short the life of an average Nigerian. Simple pot holes that ought to have been taking care of in record time have been turned into a huge gutter on the road.

Section 70, 84, 111 and provisions of the third schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, empowers the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), to prescribe salaries so that everybody who comes under that purview has his or her salaries and entitlements provided for under the Act. The moves by the National Assembly might be as a result of the downward review of some allowances of political office holders by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission as proposed in 2009.

Their allowances are based on certain percentages of their salaries, for instance Hardship allowance is 50% of their basic salary, Constituency allowance is 200%, Furniture, 300%, Newspaper 50%, Wardrobe 25%, Recess 10%, Accommodation 200%, Utilities is 30%, Domestic Staff is 75%, Entertainment is 30%, Personal Assistance 25%, Vehicle maintenance 75%, Leave allowance 10%, Severance gratuity is 300%.

Wow! WHAT a lucrative business. Little wonder the almighty federal government is finding it difficult to fund education, healthcare, maintain the roads, create employment, the looters with the inhuman legal backing under allowances, and float several companies to win government contracts. In return the Federal Government pushes the increase in wages to the State Governments without financial back up, unfortunately for the States in paying their workers as the Federal Government increases wages.

No wonder some state legislators are asking their Governors to grease their palms with millions of Naira each as bonus allowances. Allah Dey!

Since it is so difficult to get the genuineness of any information from any public quarters in Nigeria, my information revealed that in the new package the Senate President receives between N3,353,727.38 per annum, his monthly take home pay is N279, 477.28; the speaker annual total package is between N2,105,543.50 which translates to N 175,461.96 per month. The Deputy Senate President would receive N3, 117,375.10 which translate to N259, 781.26 monthly while the Deputy Speaker receives between N1, 722,440 annually but translates to N143, 536.67 per month.

These pays are exclusive allowances such as accommodation, motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance, domestic staffs, entertainment and utilities (for electricity and phone calls) and newspapers would come directly from the national treasury of the Federal Government. I believe the bone of contention is the spurious allowances. In addition the total monthly pays for a Senator is N759, 900.00 and Member of House of Representative is N661, 737.50. At the State Assembly level the monthly take home of the Speaker is N170, 820.31, Deputy Speaker N150, 623.18, while a member of the state assembly goes home with N120, 907.39.

The most hit, with about 300% decrease, are the Local Government officials. The leader of the legislative chamber will now receive N152, 118.75 monthly, his deputy, N147, 825.00, while the councilor now goes home with N88, 675.53 without provision for some of the old perks. Most of the old entitlements councilors enjoyed in the previous packages such as motor vehicle, Personal Assistant, Domestic Staff, utility, leave responsibility, legislative aide and even newspapers have been cancelled or not to be provided by the government.

Based on the new package approved by the RMAFC, suggested by late President Yar'Adua, each of the 107 senators (excluding the Senate President and his deputy) should collect N11 million in basic salaries and regular allowances every year while a member of the House of Representatives will get N9.9 million. Very confusing figures coming out from the National Assembly pay package. Nigerians are not sure, now that President Yar'Adua has passed away, whether his suggestion was adopted before his demise.

If Nigeria should go by the proposal on allowances for the National Assembly members an average Nigerian would continue to swim in abject poverty till eternity, just like the Pastor lives in paradise and the church members remain in a living hell.

Once again, the Nigeria House of Representatives members are asking for 100 percent increment in pay of N45 million per member. Their deadly reasoning, in further mortgaging Nigerians, is that when each member of the House of Representatives earns N45m quarterly allowance, each Senator should take N95m every 3 months.

This is a clever way of enslaving Nigerians and also robbing Nigerians their fundamental sources of existence. Is this the purpose of sending the Senators to the National Assembly or to make life worth living for Nigerians?

Regrettably, Nigerians start jubilating when they return to their constituencies with gifts of vehicles, motor bikes, cash, generators, instead of using the money to actually show their people how to fish. An average Nigerian should be asking the type of life these Senators live that other Nigerians are not entitled to.

Common Insurance scheme for Nigerians is so hard for the Federal Government to embark on for an average Nigerian to have access to healthcare. Instead of establishing some lucrative projects in their constituencies, they prefer to go to functions to compete who will donate more money as a way of showing their wealth from the swindled Nigerian money. If the wealth comes from their sweat, they would be careful how to spend their hard earned money.

The jumbo pay the National Assembly is asking for is distressing in the country where an average Nigerian live under American $2.00 per day. How could an average Nigerian survive with his immediate and extended families enterprises on N7, 500.00 minimum wages of about 80% of Nigerians? We could echo 'suffering and smiling' song of late Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapokuti.

Simple arithmetic, mathematics or calculations, will be crucial at this time and to note that a Nigerian Senator earns at least 8 times as much as an American Senator and more than 3 times the American President. Imagine a Nigerian senator takes home at least $1.40m ($1.28m quarterly allocations in addition to $0.113m regular salaries and allowances) as against the $0.174m an American Senator takes home.

Nigerians might ask themselves the benefit of the services of a Senator or House of Representatives to Nigeria, if common defense of the Nigerian Constitution was very difficult for them to do during the infirmity of late Yar'Adua. This is a set of ignoble members of the National Assembly.

One of the best ways the House members resolve conflict is through violence and a show of big Grammar, courtesy of Representatives Melaye and Patrick Obahiagbon respectively. We have a date with Representative Melaye later.

By the way, Honorable Patrick Obahiagbon from Eredo Federal Constituency of Edo State, a 1987 Law Graduate of University of Benin, is the most confused legislator who thinks big grammar would bring out good legislation, by opposing Free Information Bill. He speaks big grammar as if an average House of Representatives member understood him like they pretend to understand the Budget Allocation process. He could be the Mr. Basket Mouth of comedy club laughing at his ignorance.

In his narrow level of understanding of legislative process, he thinks that big grammar would transform Nigeria into a great nation serving among the giants. Patrick Obahiagbon could have successfully confused some judges in the past, if ever he practiced his profession before, however, not impressed by Nigerians with his uncanny knack jaw breaking words.

How does he think that an average members of the House of Representatives would follow his debate when asked why he speaks big grammar, "the intention is not to deliberately befuddle or obfuscate them…I do not set out to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability. Sincerely speaking, I want to tender an unreserved apologia to my colleagues and all those who feel that my language is obscurantist. The truth is that I do not set out deliberately to mystify my audience, to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability or in portmanteau of conundrum. No, no, no, no! Far from it." Even this simple explanation is more puzzling.

You would get more confused as you continue your conversation with him on his political experience since 1999, he stated that "……… it has not been a bed of roses, giving the miasma, given that convoluted phantasmagoria, given the prependalism and all the intrigues in Nigerian politics."

If this is what he thinks will make the world respect Nigeria House of Assembly, he better think twice. Citizens of Eredo Constituency are challenging the grammar phobia legislator to show what he has done with his Constituency allowances.

When would Nigeria start sending those that are really interested in transforming Nigeria to the public offices? The trouble shooters harvesting from the muddy water is the best way to qualify the current set of National Assembly members. They have not proved to Nigerians the worth of our investment on them.

Some school is of the opinion that the Federal Legislators have completely abandoned the people of Nigeria; ignored their statutory responsibility of working to reduce the debilitating poverty in the land and have turned their plenary sessions into a house of commotion, fracas and disgrace. Indeed, according to some Nigerians, 'the National Assembly has turned the Apo Village into a den of robbers by recklessly and frivolously pursuing their own happiness at the expense of the nation'.

Could Nigerians go to their constituencies and assess what their representatives have done with their constituency allowances. The roads are still not maintained, health care is unfortunately not available, graduates have turned into armed robbers, kidnappers, 419ers.

By way of further reforming the political set up in Nigeria, the State House of Assembly members should meet for a maximum of 100 Days in a year from January to April, and the rest of the months should be spent in their homes or businesses, making it part time.

The Councilors should meet once a month and paid seating allowances only. Local Government Chairs, National Assembly could be full time, but cut down the pay.

Nigeria can spend the Law Makers' jumbo pay on roads, health care, education, employment programs, and power supply. Nigeria Senator's quarterly pay can take care of about 3,000.00 employees paying them minimum wage. Unfortunately when they are supposed to screen political appointees, what they know best is to "bow and go".

For the Nigeria nascent democracy to survive in the hunger-laden country Nigeria, the jumbo pay of the Nigerian Lawmakers, most especially at the National Assembly, should be drastically cut down. The constituency allowances should be cut down by 100%, and spend on social services in their respective constituencies.