By Prisca Sam-Duru
It is unfortunate that at a time when Nigerians are facing serious hardship due to the removal of fuel subsidy and poor economy generally, the country’s lawmakers are busy fixing fat salaries and allowances for themselves.
What happened to the promise to reduce the cost of governance? Indeed, if there’s any time that Nigeria needs to cut cost of governance, it is now.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who raised the issue during an event in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti state, during the week, declared that National Assembly, (NASS) members fixing their salaries and allowances, is a clear usurpation of the duty of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.
Recent allocation of N70b to themselves from the palliative the Tinubu administration plans is another pointer to the indifference of lawmakers huge cost of governance which the masses feel more.
Also, lawyer and public affairs analyst, Liborous Oshoma, argued that the legislators’ action was not only unconstitutional but morally wrong for them to be talking about increasing their pay now. “It will be disheartening and outrageous display of irresponsibility for anybody at this time to consider a pay rise for a lawmaker,” he stated.
Continuing Oshoma agreed that “NASS members usurped the constitution that established the revenue mobilization and fiscal commission”, noting that “Though they are an arm of government with right to be independent, that does not warrant them fixing their own salaries and allowances.
“It’s not done anywhere in the world where parliamentarians fix their own salaries and allowances. They can vote for increment or reduction depending on the realities of their time.”
Oshoma, while speaking during an Arise Television show, blamed the followers some of whom he said usually troop out to constituency offices daily to collect allowances and peanuts, saying that, “The Honourables dishing out packages, peanuts and handouts are part of cost of governance.”
According to him, “It’s not a bad thing to vote to increase allowances but considering the reality of our time, if you study about 32 countries across the world, Europe, America and Britain, apart from Singapore, Nigeria has the highest earning lawmakers with an average of about $479,000 annually- salaries and allowances, newspaper allowances and the rest.
“That’s next to that of Singapore and if you look at the GDP and economy of Singapore, you can’t be comparing it to Nigeria where you have about 60% of the population in less than one dollar a day.”