Sieving facts from fictions in federal lawmakers’ salaries
AS controversy continues to rage in Nigeria’s public space about what actually constitutes the remuneration of the nation’s lawmakers particularly at the national level, the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) has come out to unveil the shrouded emoluments that had fired the imaginations of many Nigerians.
The commission in a recent release disclosed that a Senator in Nigeria earns N12, 766,320 yearly and that a member of the House of Representatives takes a total salary of N9, 529,038.06, including the regular allowances. The RMFAC disclosure is a departure from what was being claimed, apparently as a result of misinformation, as the salaries of the federal legislators.
Even as the legislator’s salary is shrouded in mystery, The Economist came to the conclusion that Nigeria’s public office holders are the highest paid in the world, followed by Kenya, Ghana and Indonesia in that order. The public officers in Norway, Spain and Sri Lanka were listed as earning the lowest in the world.
It further claimed that Nigerian legislators earn a basic salary (excluding allowances) of about N29.8 million per annum noting that the salary is 116 times more than the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, per person, which has been pegged at about N251, 200. With the recent disclosure, RMFAC has said that such claims remain in the domain of mere speculations.
In a statement signed by the Acting Secretary to the Commission, Usman I. Garndawa, the RMFAC said, “The attention of the RMFAC has been drawn to an avalanche of media reports concerning the current remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders in Nigeria. The said reports further quoted RMFAC as the source of their information.
“Accordingly, the Commission, therefore, considers it most appropriate and necessary to provide the actual details of present remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders to avoid misinformation and misrepresentation of facts capable of misleading citizens and members of the international community.”
The commission said a senator earns N2,026,400.00 as annual basic salary, which translates to N168, 866.70 per month adding that it remains the official remuneration package since February 2007 till date.
However, there are other regular allowances which have been calculated as: Motor Vehicle Fuelling and Maintenance, N1,519,800.00; Personal Assistant, N506,600.00; Domestic Staff, N1,519,800.00; Entertainment, N607,920.00; Utilities, N607,920.00; Newspapers/Periodicals, N303,960.00; Wardrobe, N506,600.00; House Maintenance, N101,320.00 and Constituency Allowance, N5,066,000.00 making a total of N12,766,320.00 as the salary per annum for a Senator.
The monthly breakdown– Basic salary and Allowances – a senator takes home N1.063.860.00 monthly while a member of the House of Representatives takes home N794,088.83 only.
Other allowances, which are paid annually or once in four years and when applicable, are: Accommodation N4, 052,800.00, which is paid annually and Furniture Allowance, N6, 079,200.00 which is paid once in four years. Also, there is Duty Tour Allowance, DTA (per night), which is N37, 000. Estacode (per night) is $950. Recess allowance is N202, 640.00 and severance gratuity, paid after a successful completion of tenure, N6, 079,200.00. A Senator could also apply for a car loan of N8, 105,600.00 which must be repaid before the expiration of his tenure.
A member of the House of Representatives earns slightly lower than a Senator, with a basic yearly salary of N1, 985,212.50, divided into a monthly salary of N165, 434.40. However, the total salary, including the regular allowances, is N9, 529,038.06. This is outside the other allowances, which include: Accommodation, N3, 970,425.00; Furniture, N5, 955,637.50; DTA N35, 000; Estacode $900; Recess, N198, 521.25 and Severance Gratuity, N5, 955,637.50. A Representative can also apply for a car loan of N7, 940,850.00.
It is believed that the Senate President has a total Annual Basic Salary of N2, 484, 242.50 and Annual Allowance of N6, 210, 606. 25, making a total Annual Salary of N8, 694, 848.75 which brings the monthly salary to about N724, 570.75.
In addition, he collects 250 per cent of his Annual Salary as Constituency Allowance while his vehicles and their maintenance are provided by the Federal Government. Similarly, his domestic staffs, entertainment, utilities, security responsibility, Legislative Aides, House Maintenance as well as a Special Adviser and a Personal Assistant are provided by the Federal Government. Robe (clothing) and newspapers are also provided for the Senate President.
The Deputy Senate President enjoys the same benefits except that his Annual Basic Salary stands at N 2,309,166.75, total allowance N 5,772,916.8, bringing total annual salary to 8,082,083.63 and a monthly pay of N 673,506.97
The Senate Majority Leader receives a salary of N12, 968, 960. The Minority leader receives a total annual salary of N12, 908, 168. The Whip receives N12, 867. The same applies to Committee Chairmen. Incidentally in the last administration almost all senators were chairmen of various committees.
Findings have however shown that the allowances received by members of the upper legislative chamber are far more than their salaries indicate. For instance, each senator receives 75 percent of the annual salary as allowance for a vehicle and its maintenance. They collect another 75 percent of their salaries for domestic staff; 30 percent for entertainment; 30 percent for utilities; 25 percent for robe (clothing); and 250 percent as Constituency Allowance.
Others include another allowance unspecified which stands at 53 percent; Newspapers 15 percent; Personal Assistant, 24 percent; and House Maintenance, 5 percent. In addition, the Leader receives 10 percent for Responsibility; Minority Leader 7 percent while the Whip and Committee chairmen receive 5 percent for the same purpose.
Other Senators receive a basic salary of 2,026,400.00; annual allowance of N10, 739,920.00, bringing it to a total of N 12,766,320.00. Other non-regular allowances include 300 percent gratuity for the Senate President and estacode of $1000 per night for foreign trips and N37,000 per night DTA.
All the senators who have just finished their terms at the 7th National Assembly are therefore entitled to 300 per cent of the annual salaries as gratuity. The Deputy Senate President gets N32, 000 per night as DTA, receives $ 1000 as estacode and a DTA of N23, 000 per night.
It is also believed that the Speaker receives a total annual salary of N 4,334,942.50. Just like the Senate President, the Federal Government provides his vehicles and their maintenance, his domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, security responsibility, Legislative Aids, House Maintenance an, as well as a Special Adviser and a Personal Assistant are also provided by the Federal Government. Similarly Robe (clothing) and Newspapers are provided for the Speaker. He also receives 75 percent of his salary as Constituency Allowance. The Deputy Speaker whose annual salary stands at N4, 002,309.94 enjoys similar benefits as the Speaker.
The Majority Leader of the House, the Minority Leader, the Chief Whip and Chairmen of Committees receive annual salaries of N6, 352,680.00. In addition, they receive 50 percent of their salaries as Vehicle and Maintenance allowance; another 50 percent for domestic staff; 10 percent for utilities and another 10 percent for House Maintenance. In addition, they collect 75 percent for Constituency Allowance, 25 percent for Personal Assistant. Other members enjoy similar allowances.
The Speaker receives $ 790 estacode per night and N32, 000 per night for domestic trips. The Deputy Speaker receives $750 and N30, 000 for estacode and Duty Tour, respectively. Members receive $550 and N21, 000 for estacode and domestic trips, respectively.
Both the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila have already bared their minds on the burning issue of legislators salaries and allowances.
Dogara who spoke to reporters recently said that he was not aware of the jumbo salaries being earned by legislators saying, “When I hear about jumbo pay for legislators I get confused. The issue of salary is quite clear because we don’t fix our salaries; it is the responsibility of RMFAC to do that. Any Nigerian that wants the information can take the benefit of the Freedom of Information Act to request for this information from the commission. I do know that our salary is not in the region of N1 million per month.’’