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Senators Rise In Defence Of N14.2m Monthly Package

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Senators yesterday justified their N14.2 million monthly package, saying the money is used to cater for their numerous expenses.

Senator Oluremi Tinubu  (APC, Lagos Central) yesterday defended the N14.2 million pay package received monthly by Nigerian senators during  the 25th town hall she organised in Lagos tagged, “Gender Equity and the Right To Economic Freedom.”

LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) had revealed in a recent interview that he and his colleagues pocketed N13.5 million monthly as running cost in addition to their N750,000 official monthly salary, bringing the total package to N14.2 million.

Speaking on the issue, Senator Tinubu said the money takes care of the lawmakers’ numerous running costs.

“Out of this money, we pay house rent, constituency office bills, transportation. And apart from these, everything is monetised. The House only provides one car for each senator,”

“Does a minister or commissioner have one car?

“People make a lot of noise when there is nothing. I have been consistent with the town hall meetings and all the money I have been spending, including empowering people, is from this money,” she explained.

When asked about the huge pay package for federal lawmakers, Tinubu’s counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Olajide Jimoh (APC, Lagos Mainland federal constituency) denied collecting such.

He said, “I am not collecting jumbo pay. My salary is legal and also embedded in the budget.”

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from the north central zone who does not want to be quoted said: “There is no official or formal reaction yet to Senator Shehu Sani’s disclosure that senators take home N13.5million, beside the N750,000 official salary monthly and that they are entitled to N200 million constituency project allowance yearly.

“If there should be any reaction, a senator should have moved a motion on it, subjected it to debate before a resolution is made.

“Even if there would be later, I don’t think Senator Sani would be punished because Senate chamber cannot be turned into a slaughtering slab for every offender irrespective of the magnitude of the offence.”

Lagos-based activist lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has declared the senators’ earnings as illegal and unconstitutional.

“Section 70 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, mandates Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to fix the rightful earnings of the legislature.

“This is far from the amount stipulated to be paid to the senators. It is a shame that senators resulted to official robbery of the nation. But I don’t blame them completely because the executive is aware of this rip-off when it signs the budget for them.

“The RMAFC is aware that Senate is cheating the nation and conspiringly kept silent all along.”

Another senator who did not want his name published anonymity sent a written submission.

He wrote: “We are aware that Senator Shehu Sani stated that the monthly ‘running costs’ of the senators was N13.5million, and that is obvious.

“But everything that Senator Sani said is detailed in the National Assembly budget under various line items.  One thing is also sacrosanct,  the running cost for legislative offices, is not exclusive to Nigeria’s legislators alone.

“In fact, in the 2017 fiscal year, the average senator in the United States was allocated over a billion Naira for their running costs under the Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense Account, which is “available to assist senators in their official and representational duties.”

“Besides, our representatives in the National Assembly have fixed line items for this N13.5million.  This means that the funds for consultancy cannot be channelled into travel expenses; the money for medical bills cannot be used for DSTV, and the newspaper allowance cannot be used to buy petrol. Why? Because the senators have to retire this money at the end of the month.

“These funds and how they are retired are also subject to the audit by the Office of the auditor-general, which can raise a query on their utilisation.

He then compared the package with those of their colleagues in other countries.

“If we look at other countries, we will see that in the United Kingdom, MPs receive a basic salary of N3,075,015; a monthly staff cost of the equivalent of between N6,271,207 and N6,713,807; a London Area Living Payment (LALP) of £3,820 (N1,905,053) monthly; an office running cost of between £24,150 (N12,043,711) and £26,850 (N13,390,213) annually, which mathematically translates to just over N1million per month; and an accommodation cost for MPs with dependants of £5,435 (N2,710,461) per eligible dependant annually. This is all outside personal healthcare costs and travel allowances.”

According to him, Canadian MPs receive a monthly salary of CAD$14,390, which equals N4,044,493.69 monthly. However, their running costs include a N100 million or CAD$355,400 Members Office Budget (MOB); a Miscellaneous Expenditure Account that is 3% of MOB (N2,996,691); an Advertising Expenses Account that is 10% of MOB (N9,988,971); and a Travel Status Expense Account of CAD$30,000 (N8,431,884.00).

He further argued that lawmakers engage in a lot of work in which they need to spend money to achieve results.

“In all of this, Nigerians need to understand that the work of legislators goes just beyond the three days of plenary that we all seem to know about. It involves ample research; a significant amount of consultations at various levels; the paid engagement of experts to seek their opinions on issues; and a significant workforce who are funded outside the five allotted legislative aide slots that is given to each senator by the National Assembly,” he said.

Below is the running cost of lawmakers in some other countries

UK MPs Salary & Allowances

  Salary: £74,000 annually, N6,166 monthly (N3,075,015).

  Accommodation: Between £15,850 (N7,904,464) and £22,760 (N11,350,512) annually for rent.

– Office Costs: Between £24,150 (N12,043,711) and £26,850 (N13,390,213) annually.

  Staffing Costs: Between £150,900 (N75,254,493) and £161,550 (N80,565,695) annually.

  Winding-up costs: Between £53,950 (N26,905,102) and £57,150 (N28,500,990).

    Accommodation Costs for MPs with dependants: £5,435 (N2,710,461) Per eligible dependant annually.

  London Area Living Payment (LALP): £3,820 (N1,905,053) monthly

Kenyan MPs Salary & Allowances

Salary / Allowance: KSh 1,100,000 Kenyan Shillings monthly (inclusive

of allowances) (this equals N3,916,440.00)

              Out of the figure above, KSh850,000 (N3,026,340) is their take-home salary.

Ghanaian MPs’ Salary

Salary: 13,000+ Ghanaian Cedi monthly (this equals N1,054,076.40)

US Senators’ Salary & Allowances

Salary: $14,500 monthly or $174,000 annually (this equals N5,220,000 monthly)

– The Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense

Account (SOPOEA) is available to assist Senators in their official and representational duties. The allowance is provided for the fiscal

year. The preliminary list of SOPOEA levels contained in the Senate report accompanying the FY2017 legislative branch appropriations bill shows a range of $3,043,454 (N1,095,643,440) to $4,815,203 (N1,733,473,080).

Canadian MPs’ Salary & Allowances

Salary: CAD$14,390 monthly or CAD$ $172,700annually (this equals

N4,044,493.69 monthly)

    Members Office Budget (MOB) – CAD $355,400 (N99,889,719.12)

  Miscellaneous Expenditure Account – 3% of MOB (N2,996,691)

  Advertising Expenses Account – 10% of MOB (N9,988,971)

  Travel Status Expense Account –CAD $30,000 (N8,431,884.00).

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