By Tennyson Sampson
THE 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have received N2 million naira each as an allowance to enable them “enjoy” their seven weeks vacation while the majority of Nigerians groan in abject poverty as a result of fuel price increases and the attendant inflation on food prices.
Godswill Akpabio, Senate president, on Monday, August 7, while addressing senators after confirming the ministerial nominees said: “In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly.”
Told by colleagues that he made the statement while on live television, Akpabio promptly said: “I withdraw that statement. In order to allow you to enjoy your holiday, the senate president has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return.”
After receiving the allowance for the holidays which ends on September 26, one of the legislators anonymously confirmed the amount to Premium Times, even though that paid to the presiding officers, namely the senate president and the deputy senate president could not be ascertained as there is a difference in salaries and allowances between what them and other senators going by the remuneration package approved by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The eight principal officers, with the majority (four) from the All Progressives Congress, while the opposition parties have four, are expected to earn high allowances than their colleagues. The officers comprise the senate leader, deputy senate leader, chief whip, and deputy chief whip. minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip, and deputy minority whip.
The N2 million allowance given to the senators is illegal as no such provision is made in the enumeration package approved by the RMAFC, the body authorised by law to prepare salaries and allowances for public servants. There is also no provision for a “token” in the commission’s document, as stated by Akpabio while announcing the allowance to the senators.
But going by the provisions of the RMAFC, the legislators are entitled to a “recess” allowance which is 10 percent of their annual basic salary which is paid once a year. The RMAFC provided that a senator earns N2,026,400 and gets 202,240 as a recess allowance per annum. The basic salary of both the senate president and deputy senate president per annum is N2,483,242, and N2,309,166 while their recess allowance is N248,424 and N230,916, respectively.
Realnews reports that Nigerians have been angry with both the executive and legislative arm of government since the All Progressives Congress ruling federal government led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced N500 billion palliative to cushion the adverse effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on the masses while allocating N70 billion and N45 billion to the National Assembly and Judiciary, respectively. The government added that about 12000 households will get N8000 each.
Amidst criticism, the government withdrew the N8000 package promising to roll out better people-oriented programmes to alleviate the suffering of the masses. – With reports from The Advocate and Premium Times