As Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general elections, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have urged the voting public to hold public office holders accountable by pushing for the review of extant laws that allow for enormous remunerations for politicians.
Speaking during a one-day workshop on salaries and emoluments of National Assembly members organised by the Africa Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (CENTRE LSD) with support from DFID and in partnership with Christian Aid under her Voice to the People (V2P) Project in Abuja, the programme director of the centre, Mr Monday Osasah, decried a situation where 21 serving senators are presently receiving salaries from their states as former governors and deputy governors (as pension), and at the same time collecting salaries and allowances as members of the National Assembly.
He said: “Antithetically, these are happening at a time when workers are owed arrears of salaries and the masses groaning under a recession caused by the wastefulness and mismanagement of national economy by the ruling class. Interestingly, the members of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) empowered by the constitution to approve the salaries and allowances of the legislators have remained mute over the issue. The budget office of the federation also could not raise its voice to interrogate the anomaly.”
According to him, “There is no way the economy can make the desired progress in a situation where the political leadership is arguably more interested in salaries and overheads than in capital expenditure. Monies that naturally should be channeled into infrastructural development are now used to service the personal interest of political leaders.”
In his presentation, titled, “Fiscal transparency of annual payments of salaries and pensions for members of the National Assembly and the way forward”, Mohammed Attah, called for an amendment of the existing laws to develop legal framework to reverse the trend.
“Advocacy should be sustained for the downsizing of government at the three tiers: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary to reduce overhead costs which constitute recurrent budgets annually. Citizens/ concerned stakeholders should engage more with elected and appointed office holders to improve transparency in their dealings, making public information readily available when needed,” he added.