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NIGERIAN SENATE... ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

By Transform Nigerian Movement (TNM)
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(A statement issued by Transform Nigerian Movement (TNM) on the planned jumbo pay by the Senators for Themselves)

Our attention has been drawn to the decision of the members of the National Assembly to jack up their quarterly allowances from N45m to N95m.

ThisDay of June 14, 2010 reports the senate intends to outdo their House of Representatives counterparts who are asking for 100 percent increment in pay of N45 million per member. Their reasoning: if each member of the House of Representatives wants N45M quarterly allowance, each Senator should take N95M every 4 months!

Transform Nigeria Movement notes that 80% of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, the minimum wage is 7,500 Naira, and the salary of the average worker is a far cry from a reasonable pay that can sustain families and provide their basic needs in present day Nigeria. To these civil servants who do the bulk of the professional tasks in the ministries and department, a pay day is a day of sadness and sorrow.

Nigerians need to know that in addition to the regular and legitimate salaries and allowances of N17 million ($113,333) and N14.99 million ($99,933) which senators and Representatives were collecting yearly and the irregular allowance of estacodes, duty tours etc, they were also collecting N192m ($1.28m) and N140m ($0.93m) respectively in illegal quarterly allocation which is not provided for by Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC. (See VANGUARD of June 20, 2010)

Based on the new package approved by the RMAFC, suggested by Late President Yar'adua, each of the 107 senators (excluding the Senate President and his deputy) should collect N11 million in basic salaries and regular allowances every year while a member of the House of Representatives will get N9.9 million.

This means that even with the reduced salary package, a Nigeria senator still get paid N11 million ($73,333) in regular salaries and allowances annually and N152m ($1.03m) in four (quarterly) allocation making a total of $1.11m plus irregular allowances like estacodes and duty tour allowances.

Nigerians are not sure, now that President Yar'Adua has passed away, whether his suggestion was adopted.

Because of the refusal of the members of the National Assembly to pass the Freedom of Information Bill we now hear stories flying around that senators and members of the House of Representatives reportedly take home up to N351 million and N147 million per person respectively. Overall, the National Assembly is projected to cost a whooping N138 billion, according to the 2010 budget. (What an expensive democracy!)

But with the budget already passed and signed into law, senators and House members began fresh moves to push quarterly allowances to N100 million and N45 million per person respectively.

BusinessDay reports that the assemblymen and women have settled for N60 million and N45 million per senator and House member respectively.

We must ask the RFMAC to confirm all these numbers floating around. Why must we the Employers of these people not know for sure how much they are being paid?

If the above is true, a Nigeria senator earns overall at least 8 times as much as an American senator and more than 3 times the American president - a Nigerian senator was taking home at least $1.40m ($1.28m quarterly allocations + $0.113m regular salaries and allowances) as against the $0.174m an American Senator takes home.

Whereas a Senator in the U.S earns N21million the same as a member of the House of Representatives; a UK Member of Parliament earn £64,766 (N15 million) In other words, a Federal Legislator in Nigeria is paid more than double what a Member of British Parliament earns per annum. (See the appendix for a graphical comparison of the earnings of Nigerian politician's vis-à-vis their counterparts in the USA)

As if this unreasonable increment of our law makers pay does not constitute enough hemorrhage in the nation's weak economy, our checks reveal that the Senate President alone takes N250 million quarterly or N83.33 million per month. Senate Deputy President gets N150 million per quarter or N50 million a month, earning in 4 months, six times what the UK Prime Minister earns in a year!

(The British Prime Minister David Cameron goes home with £190,000 per annum (N44 million; even the US President earns only $400,000 per annum, a figure that pales into insignificance when compared to what a senator earns in Nigeria's beleaguered economy)

The House of Representatives has just “forced” the speaker, Dimeji Bankole to reduce his quarterly allowance from N140m ($933,333) to N100m ($666,667) or from an annual allowance of N560m ($3.73m) to N400m ($2.67m). (Nigerian Compass; 28 May, 2010)

We also painfully note: the Senate has allocated more than N1billion as quarterly allowance to its 10 principal officers, known collectively as the Senate leadership. The eight other principal officers, individually takes home N78 million every three months or N26 million per month.

Besides, for this year, the Senate has voted N2.6 billion for local travel, N2.45 billion (foreign travel), N1.25 million (security), N2.28 billion (contingency), N750 million (guest houses for Senate and deputy), and N500 million (establishment of radio and television stations).

This brazen looting of our treasury has turned our National Assembly into an instant millionaires club.

We find the mere fact that our law makers are only interested in satisfying their selfish and insatiable desire to acquire wealth intolerable, outrageous and evil. Leaders who care about the masses will first and foremost think about the welfare/well being of the people above their personal considerations.

Transform Nigeria Movement therefore earnestly implores all well-meaning Nigerians to rise, condemn and resist this Federal legislators' conspiracy against the nation's fledgling economy and her poor people. There is no doubt at all that the nation's battered economy being bled to death by this leachy political class cannot support this fraudulent practice and no decent society will accept it.

If this is allowed to go through unchallenged, then the nation must have surrendered to the replacing of military dictatorship with civilian version. The time to act is now or we forever keep silent!

In a country where a police constable earns between N22, 000 and N27, 000 monthly depending on his length of service and accommodation plan, while a sergeant's pay is about N30, 000 and a Police inspector earns about N50, 000 monthly; Is it any wonder that armed robbery and kidnapping is rampant where they observe their representatives smile home with more than N5million Naira monthly in some cases?

What else do we expect the civil servants to do when their pay cannot provide the basic necessities of life?

In some states, while the state government claims not to have money to pay workers, it finds it convenient to pay politicians hundreds of thousands as monthly salary for doing practically nothing than looting the state blind.

How can a state government justify the over N300, 000 salary paid to a ward councilor (and over N60, 000 to a councilor's wife) while the highest paid teachers collects less than 30 percent and the least paid teacher collects less than 4 percent of a councilor's pay? (Some teachers get N25, 000 monthly)

The total annual salaries of councilors in a state like Osun State (running to over N1.4 billion) are enough to employ 2,240 workers on N50, 000 monthly salaries. This is pure robbery!

Mohammad Danjuma Goje, the governor of Gombe State, and his deputy, John Yoriyo, paid themselves the sums of N200million and N100million respectively, as part of their benefits when their first terms in Gombe State government ended in May 2007. This is outside their legitimate earnings while in office (NEXT May 27, 2010)

Yet, these States reject the payment of N52, 200 minimum wages that the national leadership of NLC and TUC are fighting for.

All these are happening in an economy that has taken more than a fair bashing of the global economic meltdown. It is a wild decision that Transform Nigeria Movement notes as callous, reckless, irresponsible, mean-spirited and reprehensible.

We call on the RMAFC, ICPC, and the EFCC to investigate this looting of the treasury and trashing the constitution.

For the avoidance of doubt, Transform Nigerian Movement wants to categorically state: what the legislators receive at the center is already scandalously too high and further upward review such as the proposed over 100% hike in their take home is provocative, risks rejection by the same masses that elected them to office, and will be the height of callousness on the part of the federal legislators.

Transform Nigeria Movement notes that the Federal Legislators have completely abandoned the people of Nigeria; ignored their statutory responsibility of working to reduce the debilitating poverty in the land and have turned their plenary sessions into a house of commotion, fracas and disgrace.

Indeed, the National Assembly has turned the Apo Village into a den of robbers by recklessly and frivolously pursuing their own happiness at the expense of the nation.

Let be known, we will not hesitate to call on the Nigerian masses to protest and resist it with all legitimate means available to them if this decision is not reversed forthwith.

Starting Monday, June 28, 2010, the Transform Nigeria Movement will start a nation-wide mobilization of all Nigerians to call our rampaging Federal Legislators to order – to save the legislature from itself. For both the future and solutions to our nation's problems are in our hands as citizens of the Nigerian nation who have no other country to call their own.

Enough is enough!
Signed:
TRANSFORM NIGERIA MOVEMENT - JUNE 23, 2010
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