Senate: N13.5m Running Costs Included in Publicised N’Assembly Budget

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• Falana: Sani’s revelation shows Nigerian legislators are highest paid in the world

By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja with agency report

Following fresh criticisms which have trailed the revelation that every senator receives about N13.5 million on a monthly basis, as running costs, the Senate has said there is nothing new about the disclosure as the figures have already been made public in the budget of the National Assembly.

Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna APC) in an interview with a magazine, was quoted as saying that the figure is in addition to the over N700,000 monthly consolidated salaries and allowances accruing to each senator.

But Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, in a statement issued last night, said the figures are contained in the various line items and expenditure heads of the National Assembly 2017 N125 billion budget.

Abdullahi dismissed reports that the senators are angry with Sani over the revelation.

“If people had looked critically at the budget of the National Assembly which has since been made public, they would have seen that various line items like travelling, medicals, consultancy and the rest were captured in the budget and they were the funds divided for each senator’s use,”

“Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that cannot be said to be part of their salaries,” Abdullahi stated.

The National Assembly’s 2017 N125 billion budget has a breakdown of N31.4 billion for the 109 members in the Senate and N49 billion for the 360 member of the House of Representatives. N14.9 billion was appropriated for the management of the National Assembly, N2.4 billion for the National Assembly Service Commission and N9.6 billion for legislative aides.

The budget includes N261.7 million for the Public Accounts Committees of both chambers, N12.6 billion for general services, N4.3 billion for National Assembly Legislative Institute and N391 million for service wide vote.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana,  has  said Sani’s revelation has proved that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said Sani’s disclosure validates a statement made to the effect by Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC).

He commended the senator representing Kaduna central for “blowing the whistle on a matter of crucial national importance.”

Falana, according to Premium Times, called on the presidency to ensure that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) takes action on the matter.

“For the first time since May 1999, the senator disclosed the jumbo emoluments of the members of the upper chamber of of the National Assembly. According to the senator, the running cost of each Senator is N13.1 million in addition to a consolidated salary of N750,000 per month,” he said in a statement released yesterday day.

“Apart from the monthly package of N13.8 million each senator is given the opportunity to execute constituency projects to the tune of N200 million per annum. However, the disclosure made by Sani does not cover the allowances for cars, housing, wardrobe, furniture etc running to several millions of naira approved for each senator.

“While we commend Sani for exposing the secrecy which had enveloped the salaries and allowances of federal legislators in Nigeria before now, it is crystal clear that the statement credited to Sagay, not too long ago to the effect that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world cannot be faulted.

“However, the federal legislators cannot be blamed alone for paying themselves skyrocketing salaries and allowances outside the ambit of the wages approved for all political office holders in the country.

“The members of the RMAFC empowered by section 70 of the Constitution to approve the salaries and allowances of the legislators have always washed off their hands like Pontius Pilate while the Budget Office has never questioned the payment of unauthorised salaries and allowances to federal legislators.

“The revelations by Senator Sani should therefore provide an opportunity for the Nigerian people to review the entire costs of governance under the rickety democratic dispensation. The Buhari administration owes the country a duty to ensure that no political officer is paid salaries and allowances that have not been approved by the RMAFC. The federal government should, as a matter of urgency, halt the payment of double salary and allowances to a number of legislators and ministers.”

Falana said Sani must not be punished by the red chamber for “spilling the beans on the payment of the illegal salaries and allowances to federal legislators.”

He called on “all lovers of democracy and public accountability in Nigeria” to rally round the senator “by ensuring that he is not harassed.”