Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, yesterday stated that the recent revelation by the Kaduna Central senator, Shehu Sani, that every lawmaker gets paid N13.5 million monthly proves that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world.
He pointed out that Sani’s disclosure validates a statement earlier made to the effect by the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay.
Newsworth recalls that the lawmaker had last week revealed he and his colleagues received N13.5 million monthly as running cost, adding that the running cost was in addition to the over N700,000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances of each member of the Senate.
“I think what we can say is that the running cost of a senator is N13.5 million every month,” Sani said in response to the question posed to him by TheNEWS magazine on alleged bogus salaries and allowances of Nigerian lawmakers.
Falana commended the senator representing Kaduna central for “blowing the whistle on a matter of crucial national importance”.
He called on the presidency to ensure that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, acts on the matter.
He said, “For the first time since May 1999, the Senator disclosed the jumbo emoluments of the members of the upper chamber of of the national assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to the Senator, the running cost of each Senator is N13.1 million in addition to a consolidated salary of N750,000 per month,” he said in a statement released on Sunday.
“Apart from the monthly package of N13.8 million each Senator is given the opportunity to execute constituency projects to the tune of N200 million per annum. However, the disclosure made by Senator Sani does not cover the allowances for cars, housing, wardrobe, furniture etc running to several millions of naira approved for each Senator.
“While we commend Senator Shehu Sani for exposing the secrecy which had enveloped the salaries and allowances of federal legislators in Nigeria before now, it is crystal clear that the statement credited to Professor Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council not too long ago to the effect that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world cannot be faulted.
“However, the federal legislators cannot be blamed alone for paying themselves skyrocketing salaries and allowances outside the ambit of the wages approved for all political office holders in the country.
“The members of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission empowered by section 70 of the Constitution to approve the salaries and allowances of the legislators have always washed off their hands like Pontius Pilate while the Budget Office has never questioned the payment of unauthorized salaries and allowances to federal legislators.
“The revelations by Senator Sani should therefore provide an opportunity for the Nigerian people to review the entire costs of governance under the rickety democratic dispensation. The Buhari administration owes the nation a duty to ensure that no political officer is paid salaries and allowances that have not been approved by the Revenue Mobilization. Allocation Fiscal Commission. The federal government should, as a matter of urgency, halt the payment of double salary and allowances to a number of legislators and ministers.”
The senior advocate stated that Sani must not be punished by the red chamber for “spilling the beans on the payment of the illegal salaries and allowances to federal legislators”, charging “all lovers of democracy and public accountability in Nigeria” to rally round the senator “by ensuring that he is not harassed”.