A New Wage Structure Of Less Than N1 Million Monthly Salary For NASS Members Has Been Proposed, As The Lawmakers Also Say It Must Go Round For The Executive And Judiciary
Nigeria may be in for a fresh war between the executive and the legislature over a proposed drastic cut in the allowances of lawmakers. This followed revelations yesterday, by Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Chief Elias Mbam, that a new salary structure for the lawmakers and members of the judiciary would be unveiled next month.
The new salary structure which is currently under review, will affect members of the National Assembly, Judiciary as well as the State Legislatures and Local Government executives. Mbam, who disclosed these while speaking with State House correspondents, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the activities of the organization, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, hinted that the new wage index will drastically cut down on lawmakers’ monthly take home.
This is coming on the heels of stiff opposition by Senators against efforts by its leadership to initiate internal salary and wages adjustments. But Mbam disclosed that the review was necessitated by the current economic realities, following persistent drop in oil prices. “We are currently reviewing the subsisting remuneration packages and it is going to reflect the socio-economic realities of today. We expect that before the end of next month, it will be ready.
But it will go through a process. It is not something that you will just say yes or no”, he said. Mbam said the review had been on since last year adding that wage cut had become imperative following the drop in oil prices and the financial constraint which had degenerated to states being unable to pay salaries of staff.
“These are some of the issues that made it necessary to review it. It did not start with this administration. We started the review as far back as last year. It is not because of the present administration that we commenced it”, he said. The Commission is saddled with the responsibility to determine the remuneration for political office-holders, both elected and appointed, from the national level to the local government level.
The pay of public office holders, particularly the salaries and allowances of the National Assembly members, has been an issue of serious contention among Nigerians. The N150 billion annual allocations to the National Assembly, charged on first line in the budget, and which includes the salaries and allowances as well as other perks of office of NASS members and staff, have remained a closely guarded secret, as details of earning are always shielded from the public.
Under the provisions of the law, President Buhari would be entitled to take home about N1.17 million per month as salary, or about N14.058 million per annum, while his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo would take home about N1.01 million per month, or N12.13 million per annum, excluding other regular allowances and entitlements.
However Mbam told journalists at the Presidential Villa that based on what the commission had fixed “no member of the National Assembly, should earn up to N1million per month”. On whether the National Assembly members will accept the new package, Mbam said “they do not have a choice. We are guided by the constitution and we are going to be guided by such laws that are provided for in the constitution and the oath they swore to obey the laws of the country”.
The President, he said, advised that they use all legitimate means to ensure that all public office holders take home their remuneration as determined by the commission and “ensure that leakages are blocked and we try to expand the size of the cake”. But a member of the House of Representatives Interim Committee on Information, Hon. Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas, said although the House would not challenge the outcome, the cut down must be done across board.
According to him, “It is the RMAFC that fixes our salaries; therefore, if in their wisdom they feel this is the best for Nigeria, we are not going to fight it. “But this Executive should also know that it is not going to be business as usual.
They must know that Nigerians who elected us know that we are lawmakers, yet want us to provide them with social amenities like water, roads and other social infrastructures. “As we speak, I just received a salary alert from my bank and none of us earn close to N1m per month. Again, as I speak to you now, I am in my constituency organizing a project that will be of great benefit to my people and this is at my own expense, not government.
The government should know that our relevance as lawmakers depends on how much we are able to do to affect the lives of our constituencies positively”, he said.
He assured Nigerians that the House would ensure that all budgetary allocations are effectively utilized to create the necessary impact on the electorate.
“We are going to do our oversight functions very well to ensure that every budgetary allocation approved by us is well utilized and that the budget positively creates the necessary impact in the lives of our people. “The fact is that as a lawmaker, you cannot spend up to 1/3 of your salary on yourself and your family because all your constituency members, who have one problem or the other, want you to meet their needs. These are the issues”, he said.
-Tony Ailemen, Abuja