Saturday, June 25, 2011

Legislators’ jumbo pay

14 June 2011

Editor Opinion

FOR quite some time, the issue of the jumbo pay of legislators in the country has occupied the foreground of public debate. It has been viewed variously as counterproductive to the goals of national development while the need for a review has been simultaneously emphasised. This issue is again in the news with the reported rebuttal of the chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr. Elias Mbam. The RMAFC chairman denied knowledge of any other emolument and allowances besides the ones approved including a running cost of N40 million and N28 million running cost approved for senators and members of the House of Representatives respectively.  As always, the issue has attracted responses from the organised labour and the clergy.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a reaction said the jumbo pay of legislators in Nigeria makes the country’s democracy the most expensive in the world. It amounts to a rip-off and strips the treasury of the required resources to pursue the goal of development. The TUC said that the cozy pay explained the do-or-die race to the three arms zone underlined by killings and sundry acts of incivility to get there.  Similarly, the Anglican Bishop of Amaichi Diocese in Nnewi South Local Government, Anambra State, Rt. Rev. Ephraim Ikeakor, called for a review of the pay of the legislators with a view to downsizing their pay which is out of place with the level of poverty in society.

We share the viewpoints of these groups and individuals who spoke against the jumbo pay of the legislators. These days, we note that the desire to serve at different political levels is far from altruism or the desire to serve the country; it is to some extent motivated by a desire to have a hand in the common till to the detriment of the rest of society. Truly, the jumbo pay of the legislators calls not only for review of the pay but a deeper scrutiny of the legislative structure. Does the country really need a bicameral legislature? Do we really need full-time legislators? Have the current legislators been productive in terms of legislative output?

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