For the very first time in a long while, our senators and House members are in the news for a genuinely altruistic reason. They have decided to make personal financial sacrifices in the national effort to contain the Covid-19 disease that has claimed 5 lives already from 224 reported cases as of yesterday. Senators, 109 of them, have pledged 50 percent of their salaries, from last month, to the Covid-19 curtailment effort. A senator earns N750, 000 as basic salary and half of that amount translates to N375, 000. House members, 360 in number, are offering up their salaries for two months.
The Senate’s spokesman, Godiya Akwashiki, last week, said: “After due consultations following a keen review of national efforts to contain the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, the Senate wishes to announce that from March 2020, senators will be donating 50 per cent of their salaries to efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. This monthly contribution from the Upper Legislative Chamber will be sustained until the country is declared free from the deadly virus. The Senate commends efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and the administration towards securing our nation against this plague. The Senate is willing and ready to do whatever is required for the effectiveness of these measures.”
The House of Representatives’ Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaking last Tuesday, said the two-month salary donation would be independent of the contributions individual members would make “to alleviate the hardships that their constituents face at this time of national emergency.” He said the donations would be transferred directly to the National Relief Fund Account for the fight against Covid-19. “Our contribution will support provisions for the welfare of frontline medical professionals and health workers, and other interventions to provide for the wellbeing of all Nigerians through these trying times,” he said. According to him, the House would exercise its oversight power to ensure “faithful administration” of all emergency funds and contributions made so far to ensure they serve the purpose for which they were intended.
As we said at the onset, this gesture of our lawmakers is welcome, more so as their actions hereto had been self serving. For instance, they often appropriate hefty funds to themselves, taking from budgetary allocations to projects for the benefit of all Nigerians, big and small. Now, however, they have read rightly the mood of the entire nation and are doing the needful. We commend them for taking little from their undeclared earnings to give to the cause of fighting Covid-19 in our country.