25 July 2011
Last week, the National Assembly attempted to mollify public outrage over the illegal, criminal and obscene emoluments of its members by announcing a cut in its running costs. In particular, the House of Representatives said it would scale down its cost of operations by 60 per cent while the Senate would agree to a 40 per cent reduction provided the executive arm of government reduces the jumbo allowances of its Ministers, Special Advisers and Special Assistants.
This newspaper regards the move by the National Assembly as an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public on the issue of salaries and allowances of its members. For instance, Section 70 of the 1999 Constitution unambiguously prescribes that "A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall receive such salary and other allowances as the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission may determine." But the Nigerian public is aware that the federal legislature, led by Senate President David Mark and Speaker Dimeji Bankole, unilaterally and illegally paid N45 million per quarter to each senator and N28 million per quarter to each member of the House of Representatives as against the allowances of N3,115,590 per quarter for a senator and N2,630,406 per quarter for a member of the House of Representatives approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission. This much was confirmed by the statement issued by the former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, shortly after his recent arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).