The Initiator and Chairman, Movement for Nigeria’s Total Transformation, Chief Areoye Oyebola, has berated Nigeria’s federal lawmakers for refusing to slash their “monumental salaries and allowances”.
Many Nigerians have called for the downward review of the ‘outrageous’ earnings of the lawmakers given the widespread poverty in the country.
Oyebola said the recent statement by Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, is one of many criticisms that had trailed the lawmakers over the years but they turned deaf ears to it.
According to Oyebola, he had raised the same issue in a publication, tagged, “Grave Issues Nigeria Must Tackle,” which was publicly presented at an event attended by a former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN); human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN); and Prof. Pat Utomi among others.
In the presentation, he noted that the United States of America’s President does not earn as much as a Nigerian lawmaker.
Oyebola had said, “It is also strange, unthinkable and very disheartening that a senator, not minding the grinding poverty of Nigerians, earns $1.7m a year, which is far higher than the $400,000 yearly income of the United States’ President, whose stupendous country is the richest in the world. Even a member of the House of Representatives also earns more than the American President. What a tragic and pathetic situation!
“Worse still, each of our National Assembly members earns more than the British Prime Minister, while the pay of a member of Ghana’s unicameral legislature is a very small fraction of our House of Representatives’ member jumbo pay of more than N10m in a month, let alone the monumental quarterly allowances that have led to serious public outcry.
“The multi-million naira earned by the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives even worse, more outrageous and mind-boggling.”
Also comparing Nigerian lawmakers to Ghana’s, he said their Ghanaian counterparts receive modest pay and that they work harder, with “minimal absenteeism” while they have also done so much to sustain their country’s democracy.
He recalled that an attempt was made by the Ghanaian lawmakers to increase their earnings in 2009 but the idea was immediately dropped after a public outcry.
Oyebola called for a 90 per cent reduction in the earnings of elected public officials in Nigeria, adding that if the slash is implemented, they would still be richer than their counterparts in the US and the UK.
“As suggested below, for the National Assembly, the President, ministers, state governors, state legislators, chairmen of local governments and councillors should have their pay and allowances reduced to 10 per cent of their present earnings. If effected, each senator’s present earnings of N15m a month will be reduced to N1.5m or N18m a year. A similar 90 per cent reduction should be effected from the pay of members of the House of Representatives.”
He said without the pay cuts, politics in Nigeria will remain a do-or-die affair.