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Published On: Wed, Mar 14th, 2018

Make lawmaking part time

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Now, Nigerians know what our senators (109 of them) earn in a month. This is thanks to one of them, Shehu Sani, who last week decided to go public with the information. Not that it was hard to obtain. Anybody who wanted it only needed to go to the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). Nonetheless, it was a stunner from the senator, a rights activist.

Senator Sani said besides a monthly salary of 750, 000 naira, a senator is entitled to a lot more payments. There is a monthly “running cost” of N13.5 million to do what he likes with. All that is required of him or her is to account for it. “What I am saying is that that money (N13.5 million per month) must be receipted for what you do with it”, he explained. The salary is not accounted for. “The only money you are not expected to account for is your salary. The other one, the running cost of office, must be accounted for. You must provide a receipt for every expense you make.” Next, there is a yearly constituency project allowance of N200 million for each senator. However, it does not come to him in ready-to-spend cash. According to Sani, “The constituency project itself is given on a zonal basis and almost every senator will go with a constituency fund of about N200 million, but it is not the cash that is given to you. You will be told that you have N200 million with an agency of government for which you will now submit projects equivalent to that amount. And it is that agency of government that will go and do those projects for you”.

The stunner in the Sani expose is the senator’s justification of the unearned payments. He said senators would not receive the ‘jumbo’ salary and sundry allowances but for huge pressure the society puts on them. He said, “We live in an underdeveloped society with a lot of poverty, misery and wants. What people want is for you to address those basic fundamental issues that affect their lives. If we can be done with that, it would be okay. When you represent the people, expectations arise from your immediate and the larger constituencies”.

We at Peoples Daily reject this justification of a jumbo pay because it is immoral and financially wasteful. The national minimum wage is still N18,000 a month. And this is for someone who is required to work 30 days a month. How do you explain giving away millions of the tax payer’s money to a senator who, at best, reports for plenary but sleeps awsy the whole day, and, worst, fails to show up in parliament for weeks and months? There can be no justification for that, none, whatsover. We are rewarding indolence too handsomely.

We must end this national disgrace. One sure way to do so is to make the work of our lawmakers part time. They should be paid pro rata – payment for the days they report work.

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