The worry about jumbo salary

PHOTO: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/

PHOTO: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/

SINCE the return of democratic governance in 1999, salaries, allowances and other emoluments of members of the National Assembly had remained a sort of mystery. The more inquiries Nigerians make, the more confused they become.

Not even the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the body saddled with the constitutional responsibility of determining the remuneration appropriate for political office holders, including the President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers the and legislators, has helped matter. The Commission has over the years behaved as partner in crime with public office holders in the country. They have barked, but lacked bite.

With all its constitutional powers and responsibilities, it is assumed that the commission at every given time should know more than any other body or person the financial status of the country, and is expected to constitutionally and transparently work towards the financial survival of the country at all times. But whether the Commission has been diligently discharging its responsibility or has been compromised by politicians in the last 16 years is a different ball game.

The then Chairman of the commission, Hamman Tukur, had at a retreat for members in Kano on May 30, 2005, titled, “Challenges Before the Revenue Commission,” lamented three thwarted attempts by the organisation to submit its reports on a new revenue allocation formula between 2002 and December 2003.

He captured the impediments being faced by the commission in carrying out its constitutional roles which somewhat leave it at the mercy of the members of National Assembly.

Till date, while the annual salaries and allowances of public office holders as packaged by the commission and backed by the law are known to Nigerians, other bogus allowances not captured in the package are not disclosed or known to the public. Its secrecy has for years made remuneration a conduit pipe to siphon public funds.

Former President Jonathan, once, promised a downward review of salaries and allowances of public office holders. But the government only succeeded in paying lip service to the issue, lacking, as it were; the political will to push for the review. Details of the latest reviewed salaries and allowances of public office holders prepared by the commission have recently attracted outrage of Nigerians in the face of current economy realities. More than 18 states have not been able to pay workers’ salaries for months. Yet, N9 billion would be paid into the accounts of members of the eighth National Assembly as wardrobe allowances. This is besides their furniture, vehicle, housing and other obscure allowances. This development is a continuation of the financial profligacy being witnessed in the National Assembly since 1999. Some citizens have thus advocated for a part-time legislature.  This is where the present government of Muhammadu Buhari is expected to take the bull by the horn. A few privileged individuals cannot continue to hide under the dubious provisions of law to corner the country’s collective patrimony.

Obviously, the revolution will not be easy considering the extravagant life styles the legislators had lived over the years.  It is high time the commission acted to save the country from total financial collapse.   Annoyingly, some ex-governors who are now in the National Assembly will benefit from the jumbo salaries, whereas they owed workers’ pay for months while presiding over their states.

To act patriotism, the lawmakers should borrow a leaf from Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai who, upon assuming office, slashed salaries and allowances of public office holders by 50 per cent and pruned the machinery of state; a line recently towed by his Oyo State counterpart, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

Nigerians, no doubt, expect more public office holders to make sacrifice for the survival of the country.

•Ezea is an associate of The Guardian



2 Comments
  • austino77

    One way to go is to hang ’em ‘ll! All efforts to reduce the jumbo pay will not work because the NASS members will always use their legislative powers to thwart them. The only way is to use people power to chase them all to their hideouts, but you and I know that that won’t work because Nigerians like/love their sufferhead lives. They want good governance, good everything but nobody want to get hurt or lost their life in ensuring that the ruling cabals are dethrones and a just and egalitarian society enshrined. Until we have our own Arab spring or the civil rights movement and I mean movement not just the lip service ones, Nigeria will remain where it is or even regress.

  • Ugwu Francis S. O.

    Ugwu
    Francis S. O.

    Democracy by representation was formulated when it was the only plausible means
    of reaching consensus involving millions of citizens. Now, these millions can
    talk to each other via the internet and reach consensus on any issue by casting
    their votes online. Therefore democracy
    by representation has actually expired! Nigerians really do not need the
    senators or representatives to decide for them. But if Nigerians are too busy
    and would want to have representatives, they are the ones who should dialogue
    with their representatives on price. When you hire a labourer, you negotiate
    directly with him on his wages. Relegating that function to the Revenue
    Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is misplaced. We can do
    one of the following: 1, reach agreement with our representative on their pay
    packet by referendum; 2, pay them like other civil servants according to their
    qualifications. Presently, there is no simple means within the reach of the
    common man to make their representative accountable. Today money controls
    everything which only our so called representatives have exclusively making
    them too strong to control both the armed forces and the judiciary. The only
    protector of the common man is a principled press that does not work with brown
    envelopes. The press should help Nigerian citizens by mobilizing them to demand
    any of the two choices to make changes possible. No parasite voluntarily leaves
    the host!

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