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More expensive to maintain U.S., UK legislators’




CONTARY to beliefs and even computations, the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) says it is much more expensive to maintain legislators in the United States (U.S.) Congress and the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament than in Nigeria.

Nevertheless, NILS has urged the Federal Government to facilitate the development of a reliable and secure online platform for Nigerians living abroad to vote, noting that the nation does not have such platform presently. It urged the Federal Government to exercise discipline and the political will to set up such platform.

Speaking against the backdrop of calls for a massive cut in the remuneration of Nigerian legislators, the NILS Director-General, Dr. Ladi Hamalai, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that most making such calls were uninformed on how much it costs to maintain a parliament.

According to him, “if you go to the United States and United Kingdom, the salaries of legislators may not be much but the budget for maintaining a single legislator in the U.S. Congress is much.

“Each legislator has a budget for maintaining the office, and is entitled to about 18 aides. This is apart from the many committee and research staff they have at their disposal.

“We calculated the salaries of a legislator in the U.S. Congress plus personal aides; just these two will amount to almost N254 million a year, exclusive of budget for maintaining the office.”

He continued: “They also have claims and reimbursements – you travel for a town hall meeting – these are eligible claims. So it is not really cheap maintaining the congress in the U.S.

“Let’s even look at the UK Parliament. By the time you calculate all the expenses, it will cost between N90 million and N100 million to maintain a parliamentarian; they have personal aides of between eight and 20, depending on the importance of the legislator.”

Hamalai allayed fears that the cost of running the legislature in Nigeria would not have a negative impact on the economy, saying: “One would say their GDP is much higher; they can afford it. Then our criticism should not be that they do not deserve this amount of money (paid to them).

“Now if you even look at the wider implication on the economy, you discover that the whole budget of the National Assembly is just three per cent of the national budget.

“You have over N4 trillion federal budget in a year and the National Assembly this year has N120 billion. This is even less than three per cent. So is it the three per cent that would have so much impact as to cause so much damage to the national economy? I don’t think so.”

Similarly, he said the calls for a unicameral legislature to cut the cost of governance would amount to changing the nation’s system of government and could weaken the principle of separation of powers and make the executive arm of government dictatorial.

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