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50 Percent Presidential Pay Cut Is Illegal- Says Huriwa

What Is Legal Is Stopping Security Votes
By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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Even as it conceded that the recent voluntary slash by 50 percent in the salaries of President and Vice President as announced by the Presidency was well intentioned but a pro-democracy civil society group - HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA ) has affirmed that it is illegal and arbitrary as the constitution only recognises the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC ) as the statutory body to determine the salary structures of political office holders in the three Arms of government under a constitutional democracy.

The Rights group has instead admonished President Muhammadu Buhari to abolish the collection of security votes by political office holders in the executive arm of government including the President, Vice president, Governors and Deputy Governors since that is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and amounts to broad day robbery of the resources belonging to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by less that one percent of the population.

HURIWA expressed shock and bewilderment that the Presidency will reject a legally fixed wage bill on the arbitrary and unilateral decision of the holders of the designated political offices without following due process but at the same time are pretty comfortable with receiving huge unbudgeted sums as security votes even when under the Appropriation Act huge Defence and police budgets are provided for and released as at when due by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

In a statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA wants the Presidency to send any proposed Presidential salary cuts to the appropriate constitutional body in substantial compliance with the tenets of the constitution which he and his Vice have sworn to uphold. HURIWA said it would have been legal if the duo had dutifully return the 50 percent of their salaries back to public coffers after the payment is made in line with the law or alternatively strongly recommend for rapid change of the salaries of political office holders by the constitutionally empowered agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Similarly, the Rights group has faulted as hypocritical and self serving the bandwagon and clearly emotionally motivated on -the -spur of the moment declarations by State governors cutting their salaries by half while on the other hand collecting humongous security votes which are never constitutionally authorised but is an aberration copied from the military dictators who captured power with brute force extra legally and ruled for years before quitting in 1999.