Some of the most lucrative political positions in Nigeria are the offices of the Senate and Federal Representative. Apart from their surprising salaries and allowances, their constituency funds are seldom accounted for. How long should this continue?
The big boys of the Nigerian political space are the Senators and federal Representatives, little wonder ex-governors and political appointees do everything in their power to wear the tag.
It pays to be a lawmaker in Nigeria, and no, this isn’t about the proceeds of corruption you often read about Africa’s largest economy. This is all above board.
It’s been known or estimated for a while now that being a Nigerian senator or house representative is a pretty lucrative gig. But now, for the first time, we know exactly just how much it pays.
After many years of keeping its budget secret, Nigeria’s National Assembly, made up of the Senate and House of Representatives, has finally published a breakdown of its annual budget. In the past, the national assembly’s total budget allocation had been included in the national budget but without a breakdown. The national assembly’s 2017 budget is pegged at $393 million–a $31 million increase from last year.
The published documents show Nigerian senators will earn $55,000 a year in salary, while house of representatives members will earn $42,000—but that’s not the real story. For lawmakers, the big bucks come in form of the generous allowances. Put together, each lawmaker will cost taxpayers $540,000 to maintain in 2017.
Shehu Sani, Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District
The senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, has finally let the cat out of the bag as to what senators truly receive in Nigeria. According to him, Senators earn 750, 000 Naira monthly, receive 13. 5 Million Naira as operation costs and 200 Million for constituency projects (which Nigerians don't see)
In an interview wi th TheNews, Mr. Sani said that the running cost does not include a N700,000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances which they also receive.
Details of the interview were published by SaharaReporters on Wednesday.
“I think what we can say is that the running cost of a senator is N13.5 million every month,” the senator said.
He explained that though there is no specification on what the funds was meant for, each lawmaker is mandated to provide receipts to back up their expenses.
Mr. Sani explains, “But what I am saying is that that money (N13.5 million per month) must be receipted for what you do with it. But what you are given to go and spend without any accountability is N750,000.”
The lawmaker also spoke on the controversial constituency projects for federal lawmakers.
“The constituency project itself is given on a zonal basis and almost every senator will go with a constituency fund of about N200 million, but it is not the cash that is given to you.
“You will be told that you have N200 million with an agency of government for which you will now submit projects equivalent to that amount. And it is that agency of government that will go and do those projects for you.”
Mr. Sani said the process of executing the projects was fraught with fraud.
“Now, the corruption comes when the projects are not done and the money is taken. But right now, it is difficult to do that because NGOs and transparency groups have come into it. They track every allocation made to you and where they are being used.
“So, it’s becoming difficult for what used to happen in the past to happen now.
“But I can tell you that I would love a situation where we do away with running costs, constituency projects and leaves senators and members of House of Reps with salaries.
The senator stated that members of the National Assembly ideally shouldn’t be involved in constituency projects. He had earlier favoured this position while speaking at the launch of fact-checking and constituency projects tracking websites organised by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
“There are issues that we need to understand. First, I don’t believe that members of the National or even state assemblies should be involved in carrying out what is called constituency projects,” he said in the interview.
Are you impressed, have any concerns, or think we can improve this article? Comment below or email us.