The Senate and the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) yesterday differ on the position of the law on the N13.5 million running cost allegedly being enjoyed by each Senator, which has continued to occupy the front burner of national discourse. In a press statement by the RMAFC sent to LEADERSHIP yesterday, it clarified its position on the salaries and allowances payable to Senators.
According to the Commission, the Law on Salaries and Allowances of Public Office Holders is very clear and as such “it is only the management of the National Assembly Service Commission that can explain the N13.5 million running cost allegedly being enjoyed by each Senator as the Act only covers Salary and Allowances but not Running Cost,” it stated.
The statement which was issued by the Commission’s spokesman, Ibrahim Mohammed said a closer look at the monthly entitlement of Senators reveals that each Senator collects salary and allowances of the sum of N1,063,860:00 consisting of the following basic-N168,866:70, motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance allowance N126,650:00, Personal Assistant N42,216:66, Domestic Staff-126,650:00, Entertainment-N50,660:00, Utilities- =N50,660:00, Newspapers/Periodicals -N25,330:00, Wardrobe – N42,216, House Maintenance – N8,443.33:00 and Constituency – N422,166:66 respectively.”
“It is instructive to note that some allowances are regular while others are non-regular. Regular allowances are paid regularly with Basic Salaries while Non-Regular allowances are paid as at when due. For instance, Furniture allowance (N6,079,200:00); and Severance Gratuity (N6,079,200:00) are paid once in every tenure while Motor Vehicle Loan-(N8,105,600:00) is optional which the beneficiary has to offset before leaving office,” Mr. Mohammed said.
“The payment of Running Cost is not part of RMAFC mandate, therefore only the NASS can explain it,” he added. The Statement adds that auditing does not fall within the purview of the Commission. Thus, RMAFC also wishes to use this opportunity to state that any other payments enjoyed by any political, or public office holders outside those provided in the Remuneration Act of 2008 is not known to the Commission and the Chief Accounting Officer of the Agencies concerned should explain it.
The RMAFC said to avoid misinformation and misrepresentation of facts, the Commission considers it most appropriate and necessary to request Nigerians and any other interested party to avail themselves of the opportunity to access the actual details of the present remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders in Nigeria published on its website: www.rmafc.gov.ng.
It pointed out that the clarification has become imperative in view of the recent revelation by Mr. Shehu Sani, a Senator of the Federal Republic who was reported to have disclosed to the public that each Senator collects monthly running cost of N13.5 M in addition to the monthly Salary of N750,000.00 prescribed by the “Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders(Salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendments) Act, 2008”.
However, the Senate through its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, yesterday insisted that the N13.5 million monthly running costs for each Senator was legal and provided for in the Appropriations Act.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, he said the statements made by his colleague from Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani, on the salaries and funds for running of offices of Senators did not disclose anything new as the figure he gave out about running cost of the offices of Senators were contained in various line items and expenditure heads of the budget of the National Assembly which has been made public.
Abdullahi said if people had looked critically at the budget of the National Assembly which has since been made public, they would have seen that various line items like traveling, medicals, consultancy and the rest were captured in the budget and they were the funds divided for each Senator’s use.
“Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that cannot be said to be part of their salaries”, Abdullahi stated.
This is just as the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said both Senate and House of Representatives leadership should be held for serial monumental fraud.
He said there is no need asking the National Assembly Service Commission to justify or explain modus operandi of the fraud.
Sagay who reacted over telephone with LEADERSHIP on the development said the National Assembly leadership simply allocate huge amount in the budget to cover the fraud.
“You see, Nigerians are made to buy clothes, fuel their fleet of cars and so on as if the rest of us don’t bear out daily running costs. We must hold the National Assembly leadership to account for this serial monumental fraud. They must be made to account for this fraud against Nigeria treasury.”