Friday, September 27, 2013

Nigerian lawmakers issue #OurNass accountability protesters outdated pay slip

National assembly pay slip #OurNass protesters received contained no new information.
Nigerian lawmakers on Thursday gave youth groups protesting the lack of transparency in their remuneration system outdated pay slip containing no new information.
Hundreds of young Nigerians, who networked through social media, stormed the National Assembly demanding answers to five key questions management of the assembly had refused to answer through freedom of information requests.
They were denied entrance to the National Assembly protest ground.
They were rather restricted to the outer gate of the National Assembly where four senators met and addressed them.
The senate team that addressed the protesters was led by the senate spokesman, Enyinaya Abaribe (PDP Abia state).
In response to the scathing criticism of lawmakers for earning outrageous salaries and allowances in a country where majority live on less than a dollar per day, Mr. Abaribe promised the protesters he would make his pay slip available to the public, if they wanted.
“We have no reason to tell lies,” he said. “If you want my pay slip, you can come and get it.”
When the documents were sent out, the protesters were stunned to find Mr. Abaribe issued them a January 2010 pay slip containing only earnings apportioned by the Revenue Mobilization And Fiscal Commission.
The pay slip captured the legally permissible N1.4 million monthly salary of an average senator, but left out the contentious quarterly allowances, sitting allowances, and other allowances the lawmakers receive, which are the main reasons for the protest.
The pay slip, printed on a white plane paper confirmed that the senators are ranked, with an average senator graded C05. Principal officers of the National Assembly are ranked higher and receive higher perks too.
Although outdated, the pay slip is the first public confirmation of Nigerian senators’ legal earnings.
The pay slip contradicts claims by lawmakers that their ‘outrageous’ quarterly “constituency allowance” is a cumulative payment. Actually, an average senators receives N422 thousand monthly as legal constituency allowance.
A senator’s basic salary is N168,666.67, while he receives a little over N337,000 monthly for housing – rent.
Legally, an average Nigerian senator earns N47,000 daily. But works only three days in a week or six months in a year.
Lawmakers total perks still a big secret
Outside the legally permissible, Nigerian lawmakers are believed to earn extra huge allowances, ranging from sitting to hardship allowances. Most of these allowances, they allocate to themselves.
Neither the public nor any other government agency oversee these in-house allocations.
In December 2010, after Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, put the National Assembly on the spot over its huge overhead expenditures, the Senate president, David Mark, pledged to review the National Assembly’s recurrent expenditure downwards.
“Based on realities of our economic situation and the need to channel our scarce resources towards nation building, we must drastically cut down the cost of running government vertically and horizontally in the three arms of government as well as the three tiers of our federating unit,” the Senate president said while receiving the 2011 budget proposal documents in December 2010.
“In this regard, the National Assembly will lead the crusade. We will make the required sacrifice and review downwards our recurrent expenditure. We expect others to make similar sacrifice,” he added.
That year, rather than a downward review to reflect the senate president’s promise, the National Assembly budget was jacked up.
In the proposal, the National Assembly’s portion in the 2011 budget – including overhead and capital – was N112 billion. But the lawmakers were unimpressed with the figure. So, while passing it, they raised their chunk of the budget by 100 percent, to N224 billion. After an outcry, the lawmakers passed the amended budget, pegging their take of the slice at N153 billion.
Yet, officials of the National assembly insisted they implemented a pay cut of 67 percent at the House of Representatives and 40 percent at the Senate.
According to a National Assembly experts, if the 2011 pay cuts were implemented, the House of Representatives members will earn N15million quarterly, saving Nigeria N30.45 million on each member quarterly and N121.82 million annually.
That indicates that they were earning N45.45 million quarterly.
There are 360 members of the House of Representatives and collectively, the nation would save N43.8 billion annually if the House of Representatives’ cut were implemented.
The senators are 109 and announced a cut of 40 percent. Although they are more discreet about their allowances, savings would have mounted way higher than the House of Representatives’.
Despite the announcements and expectations, the cuts were never backed by official documents or public records. The National Assembly annual budgets never dropped, but has remained at N150 billion – the same amount it was without the cuts.
Since then, the detailed annual budget of the National Assembly remained confidential, hidden away from the public.

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