by Musa Abdullahi
The Federal Government of Nigeria, Africa’s richest economy is borrowing money to pay salaries . But that doesn’t stop Senators and members of the House of Representatives that will constitute the 8th National Assembly and ministers to be appointed by President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), from receiving welcome perks amounting of a whooping N9bn.
In a bid to cut its revenue to meet with the downward slide of oil prices, the National Assembly have allocated to themselves, N120bn for its budget in 2015, to pay a handful of 429 members against the millions of Nigerians .
Mallam Lamido Sanusi, the former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria during his lecture at the Convocation ceremony of Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, had disclosed that 25% of the overhead of the nation’s budget goes to the National Assembly.
According to Punch Newspaper analysis, the perks of office to be enjoyed by the aforementioned include the housing allowance which each of the incoming office holder is entitled to receive once a year, the furniture allowance which they are entitled to once in four years and motor vehicle loan which they are entitled to once in their tenure.
“The perks are some of the non-regular allowances that the political office holders are entitled to as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. There are other allowances, both regular and irregular ones, but housing, furniture and motor vehicle are paid at the beginning of the tenure of the office holders to ensure that they settle down appropriately.”
Mr. Femi Falana addressing members of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Edo State Branch in Benin City, Falana argued that even the 3% of the budget claimed by the National Assembly is totally unjust.
He said For 429 members of the Assembly to allocate to themselves 3% of the national budget in a country of 140 million people where 70% of the populace lives on less than N150 a day is despicable.
At the Federal level, some civil servants have not been paid since last year while others are yet to be paid their wages since April of 2015 while the states governments are owing as much as 6 months salaries.
“We have front-loaded the borrowing programme to manage the cash crunch,” Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister told lawmakers.
“Out of the 882 billion naira budgetary provision for borrowing, the government has borrowed 473 billion naira to meet up with recurrent expenditure, including salaries and overheads.”
Ben Murray-Bruce, a business man and Nigerian senator-elect from Bayela state, home state of the out-going President Jonathan wrote, “A Governor who can’t pay salaries has no moral right to a huge convoy or to guest houses or to a private jet. Your workers must be your priority!
While advocating for budget cut for National assembly members, he wrote on his social media account, “We must be realistic. If we have to borrow to pay salaries, its a sign we must cut salaries including for Senators. I’ll lead that charge!.
“If Governors blame the FG for their inability to pay salaries why then do we need Govs? Are they just to have convoys and retinue of aides?, business man Bruce added…
The grim economic situation in the country was brought to the fore on Tuesday last week by governors and governors-elect of the All Progressives Congress (APC) when the Imo State Governor and Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Chief Rochas Okorocha, painted a picture of desperation in several states that have not been able to pay workers salaries.
Okorocha, who led his colleagues to meet with Buhari in Abuja, informed journalists at the end of the meeting that the terrible state of the economy had put the payment of April salaries of workers in jeopardy.
“One of the issues that became of concern to all of us is the state of the Nigerian economy which is really in a bad shape. We have come to notify the incoming president of the challenges ahead of him.
“As it stands today, most states of the federation have not been able to pay salaries and even the federal government has not paid April salaries and that is very worrisome, by May and June, the unpaid salaries will be in cumulative of three months,” he said.
Financial analysts have blamed slide in prices of crude oil, for the reasons most state governors haven’t been able to pay workers as they depend on oil revenues to pay salaries. From Osun state government that currently owes for six months to Benue state, the governors that depend on Abuja for revenue are now looking to borrow to pay salaries.
Housing allowance for the incoming political office holders is 200 per cent of their annual salaries; furniture is 300 per cent and motor vehicle loan is 400 per cent.
The eighth National Assembly will be inaugurated by Buhari on June 5 after the expiration of the tenure and dissolution of the 7th National Assembly but what lies ahead is a nation that still looks “clueless” as to how workers will be paid but hopes to heavily fund in-coming government.
Membership of the eighth National Assembly include 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of different political parties from across the country take home a whooping amount of money against the rest of Nigeria.
Graph made available by Budgit shows the assembly members enjoy 120 billion against the 150 shared in the past in-line with dwindling oil price.
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