Nigerian Senators have recently come under fire after reports revealed that the salary of a senator was $1.7 million per annum, well above the $400,000 annual salary of President of the United States.
But in a swift reaction to the criticisms, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi has maintained that the upper legislative chamber cannot disclose its salaries and allowances.
Speaking during a live programme on Channels Television ‘Politics Today,’ the Senate spokesman refused to state how much the lawmakers earned in salary and allowances.
When asked how much he earned as a Senator, Abdullahi told the presenter that it was rude to ask him to disclose such information. In his words:
“You don’t expect me to come out on national television to say this is what I earn. It is not done. I cannot ask you as a journalist how much you earn. It is not done.
“If anybody is interested in how much we are getting paid, you know where to get the information. The documents are available. If Nigerians won’t believe that, is it what I will say that they will believe?”
BuzzNigeria recalls that in a lecture in Lagos, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC) Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) had recently claimed that a Nigerian Senator gets N29 million as monthly pay.
But the Senate spokesman said the figures released by Prof. Itse Sagay were false, adding that the Senate’s budget was not even as high as what the lawyer released. Abdullahi further alleged that Sagay was only trying to cause unnecessary tension between the National Assembly and the Presidency.
However, the Senate spokesman refused to confirm nor deny the figures exclusively obtained by Channels Television which put the salary and allowances of each senator at N14m per month and House of Representatives members as N8m per month.
While urging Nigerians to look on the bright side, Abdullahi argued that the cost of democracy was not as high as the cost of not having democracy. In his words:
“This issue has become a recurring decimal. In the last two years people have been discussing this matter and I always ask myself, what do people really want to believe? I think if this subject matter has been discussed for two years and we are still looking at issues wrongly, then I think there is something wrong with us.
“The institutions that are responsible for providing this information are there. A law was promulgated on Top Salary Scale also known as TOPSA and it is based on this scale that everyone who holds one political office or the other gets paid.
“I want to also submit that I presume Prof. Sagay would have been paid based on the provision of this scale. For us in the National Assembly, the question needs to be asked ‘what is the cost of having democracy and what is the cost of not having democracy?”
At the public lecture in Lagos, Prof Sagay had disclosed that a Nigerian Senator earns about N29 million a month and over N3 billion a year. Sagay further broke down details of their other allowances thus:
“Basic salary N2,484,245.50; hardship allowance, 1,242, 122.70; constituency allowance N4, 968, 509.00; furniture allowance N7, 452, 736.50; newspaper allowance N1, 242, 122.70.
“Wardrobe allowance N621,061.37; recess allowance N248, 424.55; accommodation 4,968,509.00; utilities N828,081.83; domestic staff N1,863,184.12; entertainment N828,081.83; personal assistant N621,061.37; vehicle maintenance allowance N1,863,184.12; leave allowance N248,424.55; severance gratuity N7, 425,736.50; and motor vehicle allowance N9, 936,982.00.”