• Senator draws N1.4m monthly salary, Rep N1.1m
By Abimbola Akosile
The N120 billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2015 budget is not spent by the 109 Senators and 360 members alone, contrary to popular belief, THISDAY has learnt.
Instead, investigation has revealed that there are about 4,000 individuals, 145 committees, nine local and foreign bodies as well as four agencies which share the budget allocated to the federal legislature.
According to findings, part of the money is also expended on capital expenditure, general services, organising public hearings, pursuing various litigations, hiring consultants, performing oversight functions which is the other key function of the legislative institution apart from law-making, and foreign and local travels.
According to documents obtained from the Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly, the current legislature has the smallest allocation of N120 billion, which is 2.67 per cent of the 2015 national budget of N4.5 trillion, and N30 billion less than what was allocated to the same institution in the last five years.
The reduction in budgetary allocation was self initiated by the lawmakers in response to the dwindling revenue of the federation, findings also revealed.
Also, the documents revealed that 7,200 individuals draw salaries and allowances from the National Assembly, which include 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives, 13 commissioners in the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), 3,208 members of staff of the commission and 337 members of the management staff, 3,024 legislative aides, seven members of board of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NIALS) with 115 staff members of the institute.
Also, it was discovered that funds are allocated to servicing of the 54 Senate standing committees and 91 House of Representatives standing committees, while the legislative institution also fulfils its financial obligations to bodies like the inter-Parliamentary Union, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Pan African Parliament, ECOWAS Parliament, African, Carribean and Pacific – EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Shoora/Arab Parliament and National Conference of State Legislatures.
From the fund, a senator gets a monthly salary of N1.4 million while his colleague in the House gets N1.1 million a month. The breakdown of the monthly salary include wardrobe allowance of N42,216 and N41,358 for Senator and Representative respectively, and N337,733 and N330,868 for housing allowance. Other components of the monthly salary include basic salary (N168,866 for Senators and N165,435 for Reps); vehicle maintenance (N126,650 and N124,075 respectively), entertainment, utility, domestic staff, constituency, newspaper, recess and personal assistant.
The salaries and allowances were however fixed by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) which is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of determining the remuneration appropriate for all political, judicial and public office holders.
The National Assembly, it was learnt, also spend money on general services which include but are not limited to maintenance of its huge complex, fueling of power generating plants, insurance of building, vehicles and other capital assets.
Funds are allocated to purchase of utility vehicles, purchase of office equipment as well as rehabilitation and repairs of the National Assembly complex, findings also revealed.
A document obtained during the investigation also noted that “members of the National Assembly are not allocated funds for constituency projects… They are neither given funds to execute projects in their constituencies nor do they prequalify Contractors for such projects. The practice is that, some relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the executive arm of government allow members of the National Assembly to indicate where certain projects should be sited in their constituencies. The procurement processes as well as funding for these projects remain an executive function.”
A Senator, who spoke on the issue, said “apart from all these people who are documented as legally sharing the National Assembly budget, how about the thousands of others that we provide for?
The Senators and Representatives are the agencies for social security in this country. Without any statutory social security programme, our constituents besiege our home and offices for one financial assistance or the other. So, people who bandy about exaggerated figures about our allowances should know they are simply undermining democracy.”
Another Senator lamented that “people who are talking about jumbo salary figures for the National Assembly are simply trying to turn the people against us. Those figures are not correct. They are not enough to even provide the comfort that some of us enjoy before coming to the National Assembly”, he said.
SOURCE: THIS DAY NEWSPAPER