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National Assembly members’ curious pay

By Patrick Dele Cole
04 September 2020   |   2:00 am
The news media organizations in Nigeria have to be ashamed of themselves for lacking the ability to truly inform the Nigerian public. All we do is to be a megaphone of government, big business and indeed anyone who can pay. Chibok and Dapchi happened, no Nigerian journalist reported it properly: no one went there; no…

The news media organizations in Nigeria have to be ashamed of themselves for lacking the ability to truly inform the Nigerian public. All we do is to be a megaphone of government, big business and indeed anyone who can pay. Chibok and Dapchi happened, no Nigerian journalist reported it properly: no one went there; no one interviewed anybody in Boko Haram etc, in fact reporters are spoon-fed with hand outs which are then digested – no in-depth analysis. We had to wait for CNN to do that or carry whatever Boko Haram decides to give the media. On a simple matter of what our assembly men and senators earn we have to go to Wikileaks and other foreign platforms to find out. These parliamentarians have bank accounts to which moneys are paid.

In Europe and the U.S., relationships with officials in government and with banks are encouraged, developed and guarded for exclusives. The media even have hackers who check in on newsworthy issues and people. In Nigeria, the state house correspondents wait for handouts; same attitude for those who work in the national assembly – with all that staff and supporting institutions, leaks should be plentiful. We should have evidence supported by at least two other reliable sources to get to this idiocy of hiding in plain sight. Journalists should have a lot more information than EFCC or the Code of Conduct Bureau. In the U.S., the financial statements of all politicians can be assessed and published. Yes, Mr. Trump is fighting this, but to his detriment. And he is lonely in his isolation on this matter. Such light on the activities of these parliamentarians is a strong disincentive to misbehave. On a daily basis in Nigeria, the government and businesses announce the spending of unimaginable amounts – no journalist sits down to check whether the dots can actually be made to form an intelligible optic. Can we join the dots: follow the facts; follow the numbers and follow the money?

In UK, leakages are encouraged. Press light has shown the way money is spent. When expenses were fiddled with, the press exposed them. Not necessarily because they are corrupt but public light is used on these dark areas. This makes better legislation and better able to hold power to account. Investigative journalism is a gaunter of journalism so far the system is unknown in Nigeria. It is impossible to be a good journalist without investigative powers and instincts. The whole of the #Me-Too-Movement and the effects thereof flow from investigative journalism. For example New York Times. We have a Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria that is more respected in breach than in compliance.

When the government announces that it will spend N600 million per day feeding people – how, by whom and when? What is the mechanism for this – where are the kitchens? Are the foods cooked or raw? Has any journalist seen how this programme was dispensed? The CBN is spending over N400 billion on farmers during this planting season. Really? Where or how? All money spent or acquired by government is subject to review. It is difficult but not impossible. And following the money is a lot better than our usual public flagellation of blame and innuendo.

Bashiru, Akanni and Okoro were hungry and had not eaten for days. Okoro’s stomach is growling and he is complaining that for two days he has not eaten. Akanni looks at Okoro with disdain saying Okoro you have not eaten for two days and you are here blabbing your mouth, what kind of man are you – only two days. I have not eaten for four days. I would have eaten yesterday but the last food was given to the guy in front of me. Even so, although I am worse than you are, I am not disturbing the neighbor for not eating for two days. Bashiru is shaking his head listening to Okoro and Akanni. All of you shut up. For seven days I have not eaten. The harmattan had blown hot and cold wound on my body, filled my nostrils with dust. I am here and you talk of hunger. Bashiru, Akanni and Okoro are competing in a crescendo of a misery symphony. They would agree on their circumstances, agree on what is making them hungry, but disagree on who is making them hungry; thereby confirming their paralysis. On the ‘who’ they went tribal.

The same information should be available for the pay of state assembly members and local government councilors. We know how much goes to the local government from the federal purse, how is it spent? For example, in Akikwtoro 17 councilors have 4 supervising councilors. The chairman of the council and four councilors came to my house to resolve a bitter quarrel of how much was due to them from the security vote. Having appropriated a lion’s share of the security vote, they fell apart on how to share it. The chairman was demanding 50% and the others were to be satisfied by 12% each. It was clear that the division of this money was what brought them to me, not the security of the local government. When assembly men seek office in the subcommittees – the vehemence of the quest is dependent on the budget of that committee, not on its particular activity which may have no actual projects that would be accomplished.

The disgraceful performance in the national assembly was during interviews between them, Chris Ngige, Akpabio and Mr. Keyamo and the Joint Committee of the Assembly on Labour, about the federal government’s plans to recruit 774,000 labourers may be an eye opener. The money has already been voted and I suspect on some unstated understanding which Mr. Keyamo was unable to substantiate. How can, in the face of it, anybody quarrel because 774,000 labourers are to be employed for three months? There are over one million unemployed university graduates. They need employment. Mr. Buhari has promised to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. How? When? There are two countries in the world that have achieved this and more – China and Brazil under Iuiz,Inacio Lula. So it’s been done before, what are we waiting for?

I have seen the outlines of the plan but even with the best will in the world, and given the toxicity of politics today – is the plan not dead in the water. You cannot throw money at a piece of land and expect a house or a road or hospital. You plan, evaluate, organize, measure and then work with assessments as to how progress is following plan and plan is following concept. Most importantly, you carry the people all the way. They see that you are with them and for them, and that you would not use them for photo opportunity. Even if you do, let the project be off and running. There is no better propagandist than a contended benefactor from poverty alienation. Our governors, state commissioners and legislators receive gratuity and pensions. This information should be available to the public. A governor with pension, when appointed minister or becomes a senator, is such a person entitled to another pension? Should we not legislate on this revolving door principle? Are the figures below true? What are the correct figures?
Breakdown of what a Nigerian senator earns:
Newspaper Allowance………..N1.24m, Wardrobe Allowance………….N0.62m,
Recess Allowance……………N0.25m,
Utilities……………………………N0.83m, Domestic Staff………………….N1.86m,
Personal Assistant……………….N0.62m,
Vehicle Maintanance Allowance…….N1.86m,
Leave Allowance…………………..N0.25m, TOTAL RUNNING COST………….N13.58m/month.
This adds up to N162.96m annually
He goes home with N750, 000 monthly, This sums up to N9 million annually
He claims he is entitled to N200 million annually to execute projects which are the duty of the Executive.
SUMMARY: Annual Salary…….N9,000,000 per annum,
Running Allowance….N163,000,000 per annum,
Constituency Projects……..N200,000,000 per annum,
TOTAL N372,000,000 per annum. This amount is over N1,000,000 every day including Sundays when he is in church/mosque.
He also gets this,
Severance Gratuity……N7.43m,
Furniture Allowance……….N7.45m,
Motor Vehicle Allowance…N9.94m,
TOTAL N24m plus

Nigerian House of Representatives Salary
The Basic Salary a House of Representatives member receives include:
Personal Assistant, Constituency, Vehicle fueling/maintenance, Domestic Staff, Entertainment, Recess,
Newspaper/Periodicals, Utilities, Houses Maintenance, Vehicle Loan, Furniture, Wardrobe, Duty Tour,
Accommodation, etc.
Speaker, House of Representatives
The head of Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber, the speaker, receives 4,954,220:00 (N4.95m) annually and N412,851:66 monthly, excluding allowances.
Members of the House of Representatives
Members of the lower legislative chamber, according to RMAFC, receive 9,529,038:06 (N9.5m) as annual pay and N704,086:83 every month as allowances
Nigeria’s Healthcare budget is N46 billion for 200 million people
Nigeria’s Education budget is N48 billion for 200 million people
Nigeria’s Legislators Budget is N125 billion for 465 people

The conduct of the Senators and members of the National Assembly and Senate Assemblies must be exemplary and beyond reproach. You cannot don a garb of righteousness and pursue the executive for corruption and other misdeeds while you are bath in sinful excrement. You must come to equity with clean hands. That is the reason bathed there are Ethics Committees in our legislatures: to police themselves to reach the highest standards and calibre.

A senator cannot assault a woman in public without consequences. The Senator cannot escape on the plea of so-called insufficient prosecution diligence. If the police is complicit and cannot do its job, how about the Senate Ethics Committee? How about the Senate President? Does he know that any disgraceful act of a member taints other members? It is entirely possible that the young lady has been appeased; but the public has not: the Senate hasn’t and remains culpable. Finally our almighty Attorney General – why has he swallowed the disappearing pill oh H.G. Wells? Is the AG not charged with ensuring justice, protecting the weak? If the AG had raised his voice that no one was above the law, would the police be indifferent in this prosecution? And the young people of Nigeria have you no shame? One of yours is indecently assaulted in public by a pompous “don’t you know who I am” Senator, and you are silent. The magistrate dismisses the case, you remain silent; you don’t know the social media number of the IG, other members of power elite, their friends. Why are you not bombarding them with your disgust justifiably because you are asking all Senators, AG, IG, and CJ to do their job?

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