Senators and members of the House of Representatives share a total of N46billion annually as running cost, Daily Trust reports.
The amount represents over 40 percent of the National Assembly’s N115 billion annual budget.
The money, our correspondents gathered, was for the running cost, covering expenditures such as basic salary, vehicle maintenance, entertainment, utility, domestic staff, constituency, newspapers, recess allowance, wardrobe, personal assistant and housing.
Each of the 109 Senators gets N12million monthly while the 360 House members get N7million monthly totalling N3.8billion monthly.
A document obtained by Daily Trust showed that of the N115 billion, the House gets N47.2billion, Senate N30.2billion and the National Assembly bureaucracy N11.6billion.
The document showed also that N9.7billion was budgeted for legislative aides, N9.5billion for general service, N4.2billion for the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), N1.9billion for the National Assembly Service Commission, N379million for Service Wide Votes, N138million for House Public Accounts Committee and N115million for the Senate Public Accounts Committee.
Based on the provision of the review remuneration package of political, public and judicial office holders by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), 2009, a senator’s annual basic salary is N2.026m, while that of a member of the House is N1.985m.
Other allowances for senators, according to RMAFC, are accommodation, 150 percent of annual basic salary (N3.039m); furniture, N3.039m (150%); motor vehicle allowance, N5.066m (250%); motor vehicle maintenance, N1.013m (50%); personal assistant, N506,600 (25%); domestic staff, N1.013m (50%); entertainment, N405,280 (20%); utilities, N202,640 (25%); recess allowance, N202,640 (10%); newspaper/periodicals, N202,640 (10%); constituency allowance, N2.533m (125%) and severance gratuity, N6.079m (300%).
As for the members of the House, the RMAFC provides that accommodation is N2.977m, which is (150%) percent of annual basic salary; furniture, N744,454 (150%); motor vehicle allowance, N4.963 (250%); motor vehicle maintenance, N992,606 (50%); personal assistant, N496,303 (25%); domestic staff, N992,606 (50%); entertainment, N397,042 (20%); utilities, N198,521 (10%); recess allowance, N198,521 (10%); newspaper/periodicals, N198,521 (10%); constituency allowance, N1.488m (75%) and severance gratuity, N5.955m (300%).
Out of the allowances, furniture, motor vehicle allowance and severance gratuity, which stand at N14.184m and 11.662m for a senator and a member of the House respectively, are paid once in four years.
However, the other allowances, which are N9.118m and N7.940m for senators and reps respectively, are paid annually.
Multiple sources at both the Senate and House confirmed to our correspondents that the amount is being paid to the lawmakers.
One of the sources said the money was not free money but that it was meant for the running of constituency offices of the lawmakers.
“Yes, they are being paid the money but it is for the running of their constituency offices including hiring of staff, furnishing of the office, and travelling among others. Each of the lawmakers is expected to have an office in each of the local government areas in their district.
“It is not free money because it is being accounted for every month. They retire the money monthly and this serve as clearance for them to benefit for subsequent month, “the source said.
He, however expressed misgiving that most of the lawmakers do not have constituency offices thus, cutting them away from their constituents.
Some of the lawmakers contacted insisted that the money was part of their legitimate earnings but they declined further comment.
Contacted Senate Spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, declined comment, saying he was just returning from a village where 10 of his constituents died in a boat mishap.
Efforts to get the reaction of House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa) were unsuccessful as his telephone was switched off. However, a staff of the House told our correspondent that the lawmaker was attending the Third Session of the Pan-African Parliament in Egypt.
Suspended former Chairman of the House committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin had claimed that the lawmakers got between N10 and N20million monthly as running cost.
Our correspondents report that during the House plenary on Wednesday, the issue of the lawmakers’ running costs nearly came up when Rep Ayo Omidiran (APC, Osun) raised a point of order on privileges, requesting Speaker Yakubu Dogara to allow the House dissolve into a closed-door session for her to explain.
But Dogara responded by saying it was a strange procedure for her to come up with such a request. He immediately summoned her to his seat, where the matter was ‘killed.’
It was later gathered that Omidiran, who was visibly angry, had received bashing from her constituents on the social media based on Jibrin’s allegations.
Our Correspondents report that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki is yet to fulfil his pledge to make the breakdown of the National Assembly budget public.
The National Assembly became a one-line item in 2010 under former Senate President, Senator David Mark.
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