Amid the increasing criticism of the huge salaries and allowances of Nigeria’s lawmakers, a senator (name withheld) has affirmed insinuations that their earnings are indeed outrageous.
The senator, who noted that the perceived outrageous salaries by senators were unnecessary plundering of the nation’s resources, said rejecting the jumbo pay would be viewed as madness having found himself within the system.
Furthermore, the senator said the jumbo pay was part of the reason National Assembly’s intervention in the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which did not yield any fruitful result.
According to him, even though the demands of ASUU are highly provocative, unmerited and self-centred, members of the National Assembly Education Joint Committee lacked the effrontery to confront members of the union during recent meetings with them because of the consciousness of their seeming unmerited wages.
He said: “I believe what we earn is not justifiable. That is why ASUU is making unnecessary demands. I wonder why the federal government should reach an agreement with them on such demands. These are demands that are not made by lecturers anywhere in the world. If they are asking for well equipped libraries, laboratories or more conducive learning environment, it would have been understandable. But everything is about themselves.
“How can they be asking for extra pay because they have large classes? Is it not their responsibilities to teach whether a class is large or not? And in any case, who admitted the large class? But they are making these demands just because they know what we earn,” he disclosed.
Also affirming this position, Senator Sola Akinyede, in a recent interview with THISDAY, said the executive should not only be blamed for high cost of governance, noting that the legislature also contributed largely to the problem. He added that the judiciary also has its own share of the blame.
Akinyede, who represented Ekiti South senatorial district in the Senate between 2007 and 2011, said he felt guilty having benefitted from such unjustifiable pay as a senator.
“High cost of governance does not only affect the executive, it also affects the legislature and the judiciary. I think what we should do is that heads of the three organs of government at every level along with leaderships of political parties should sit down and agree on how to reduce the cost of governance.
“Honestly, l think it’s unfair. I’m also guilty of it because l benefitted from it as a senator. It’s unfair for us elite to arrogate so much of the country’s resources to ourselves and still expect economic development,” Akinyede said.
Nigerian senators’ salaries have been a subject of controversy since the inception of this democratic era. With alleged N2,484,245.50 as basic salary, a senator is alleged to be cruising home with a whopping N11 million as regular salaries and allowances and N27 million as quarterly allowances besides irregular allowances such as estacodes and duty tour allowances.
It was also alleged that the entire Senate leadership comprising 10 principal officers draw N1, 024,000,000 as quarterly allowance.
It was repeatedly published in local and foreign media that a Nigerian senator earns far higher than United States president, whose total salary per annum was $400,000. The situation is also the same in House of Representatives.