By Chris Nomjov
Unconfirmed reports allege that newly sworn in members of the National Assembly are set to receive an audacious N8.64 billion as wardrobe allowance next week.
The report by ThisDay further revealed that this sum is asides other allowances such as furniture, housing and vehicle, which the lawmakers are entitled to.
This revelation has caused outrage among Nigerians and civil right groups, especially as the issue of #OpenNASS; a movement to cut down on the budgetary allocation to the National Assembly; is still being contemplated.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki is billed to meet with Civil Society Organisations later today and will address among other issues, the authenticity of this claim, which would certainly, be a hot topic in the polity, for now.
It was learnt that the management of the National Assembly is currently allocating offices to the 469 federal lawmakers in both chambers ahead of their resumption on June 23 from the two-week recess that they embarked on June 10.
The N8.64 billion wardrobe allowance translates to N17.5 million for each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives and N21.5 million for each of the 109 senators.
While the wardrobe allowance, just like the furniture and vehicle allowances, will cover the entire four-year tenure of the 469 federal lawmakers, their housing allowances are paid on a yearly basis.
Based on the approval of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the housing allowance for political office holders is usually 200 per cent of their annual salaries, the furniture allowance is 300 per cent of annual salaries, while a motor vehicle loan is pegged at 400 per cent of their annual salaries.
Accordingly, each of the 107 senators besides the Senate President and his deputy, will be paid N4,052,800 as housing allowance.
This sum will be paid to them every year, translating to N433,649,600 as housing allowance to be paid to the Senate annually, while the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President will be provided accommodation by the federal government.
On the other hand, each member of the House of Representatives will be paid N3,970,425 as housing allowance upon assumption of office.
This implies that the 358 representatives aside the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, will collect a total of N1,421,412,150 as housing allowance. Like that of the Senate, the speaker and deputy speaker will be given accommodation by the federal government.
Following the monetisation of entitlements of public officials undertaken by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, the lawmakers lost the right to occupy houses built and maintained by the government.
Hence, the federal government sold the houses previously occupied by the lawmakers to them.
Since the principal officers of the Sixth National Assembly benefited from the sale of the houses, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) is currently building new ones for the four presiding officers of both chambers.
On the furniture allowance, each of the senators will take away N6,079,200 from the budget of the National Assembly, while the furniture for both the Senate president and his deputy will be provided by the government.
The total sum to be paid to the 107 senators as furniture allowance will be N650,474,400.
In the House of Representatives, each member will be paid N5,955,637.50 as furniture allowance.
This means that the 358 members will collect a total of N2,132,118,225 for furniture.
On the vehicle loan, each of the senators is entitled to N8,105,600, while each House member is entitled to N7,940,850.50, meaning that the 107 senators will collectively take N867,299,200 as vehicle loans while the 358 House members will get N2,842,824,479 for their vehicles.