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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Nigerian lawmakers highest paid globally —The Economist
Tuesday, 23 July 2013 14:19

Nigerian lawmakers highest paid globally —The Economist

(L) Senate President David Mark and  House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal (L) Senate President David Mark and House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal photo: punch


The jumbo salary being paid the country’s legislators, which ranked the highest in the world, according to a new study, has attracted sharp criticisms from Nigerians across the country, including economists and lawyers.


A report by The Economist magazine revealed that Nigerian federal legislators with a basic salary of $189,500 per annum (N30.6m) were the highest paid lawmakers in the world.


Quoting data from the International Monetary Fund and The Economist magazine of London, the study looked at the lawmakers’ basic salary as a ratio of the Gross Domestic Product per person across countries of the world.


According to the report, the basic salary (which excludes allowances) of a Nigerian lawmaker is 116 times the country’s GDP per person of $1,600.


The $189,500 earned annually by each Nigerian legislator is estimated to be 52 per cent higher than what Kenya legislators, who are the second highest paid lawmakers, earned.


An Associate Professor of Economics at the Ekiti State University, Dr. Abel Awe, said the lawmakers’ jumbo salary was indicative of the huge gap between the poor and the rich as well as between the ruler and the ruled.


He said it was unfortunate that the country was running the costliest democracy in the world.


Awe said, “This is part of the reason why 70 per cent of the nation’s budget is allocated to re-current expenditure. We are using a huge chunk of the nation’s resources to service just less than 1,000 people in a country of over 160 million people.


“We are running the costliest democracy in the world.  We can’t develop this way when we spend huge money to service a few people. How will you get money for productive activities to expand the economy? An average Nigerian cannot access good medical care, good roads and other basic things of life when the legislators are smiling to the bank.


“This democracy is satanic. We have to review this democracy. The cost of maintaining the lawmakers is outrageous. What they are taking is too much.”


An economist, Mr. Henry Boyo, said the study had shown clearly that the cost of governance in Nigeria was very high.


Boyo, who noted that the cost of governance was predicated on the provisions of the Constitution, said it was high time Nigerians cried against the bloated cost of governance.


He said, “Our legislators’ actions or salaries are actually accommodated by the Constitution. In the past, we had less money and we had enough as a country. People are asking for a change of Constitution.


“It is unfortunate that it is the people who will do it that are the ones in charge. The legislators will not vote against themselves.”


The Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said although Nigeria remained a complex environment, that did not justify excessive wages.


“We cannot underestimate what it takes to bring law and order to a state that has been in a virtual state of anarchy for years, but there’s no justification for excessive compensation,” he said.


The Chief Research Analyst, Stakes Capital, Mr. Sanyaolu Kehinde, said this was an obvious case of how politicians were running government.


He said, “There’s nothing to justify the amount these people are earning because we don’t see the work they are doing. It also exposes the fact that we don’t value work. We prefer to reward work not done. The Nigerian politician is not service-driven.


“If we have 12 elections in one year, I can assure you that we will still not have good leaders because the system is faulty. The number of people who are not service-driven in Nigeria is high. There are only a few good people in Nigeria, very few people are left who are not thinking about themselves.”


The Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, Mr. Monday Ubani, said the legislators had created “a big hole” in the nation’s treasury.


Ubani, who scored the legislators low on output, said they had failed to justify their fat pays, adding that their submissions in both legislative chambers “are at variance with that of sovereign Nigerians.”


He called on Nigerians “to decide whether we need both Houses, and if yes, whether on part time or full time basis.”


Ubani said, “This is a fact already and well known to Nigerians and the world. It is not a new story. What is baffling is that their legislative output is not commensurate to the amount of salaries and allowances they are earning.


“Take for instance, the ongoing constitution amendment. Their propositions and submissions on almost all the important clauses are at variance with that of the sovereign Nigerians. Both Houses have created a big hole on our national treasury.”


On his part, human rights lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, lamented the wide disparity between the earnings of the citizens and their legislators, who according to him, are the idlest, yet earn the most in the world.


He said what was obtainable in Nigeria was a parody of democracy whereby the ruling class earned well but preferred to subject the issue of N18,000 minimum wage to debate.


Aturu said, “We are running a parody of democracy in this country. It is a democracy for the rich. The people are getting poorer for building a nation, while the politicians are getting richer for doing nothing. Those who are not creating wealth in the country are sitting on the wealth of the people, and those who are creating the wealth, the workers, are being paid peanuts.


“Can you imagine there is still a raging and scandalous debate among some governors on whether or not to pay N18,000 minimum wage? Yet we are in a nation where the idlest legislators are being paid the highest in the world.”


The National Assembly has, however, rejected the report that its members are the highest paid lawmakers in the world.


While reacting to the report published in The Economist magazine on Monday, the spokespersons of the two chambers of the National Assembly described it as grossly exaggerated.


The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the report was misleading and incorrect.


He said it was easy for anyone to verify what Nigerian lawmakers earned given that such information could be obtained from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.


Abaribe said, “My reaction is that the report is incorrect. It is very easy for anybody to know what we earn by going to the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.


“The report is not correct because it did not emanate from the RMAFC, because that is the only body that determines what a lawmaker earns.”


In the same vein, the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, dismissed the report as incorrect.


He said, “Whatever is being written is mere exaggeration and does not reflect what is accurate. They fail to realise that what we take as salaries are different from what we use in running our offices.


“These are two different issues. Most times, people just lump everything together and claim that it is our monthly salary; that is not correct. At the appropriate time, we shall react, because it is not just about the House but the National Assembly. The National Assembly will react at the right time.”


The report had suggested that a Nigerian federal lawmaker earned $189,000 or about N30m annually.


The magazine also published details of the annual salaries of legislators in other countries, some of which include Ghana, $46,500; Indonesia, $65,800; Thailand, $43,800; India, $11,200; Italy, $182,000;  Bangladesh, N4,000; Israel, $114,800; Hong Kong, $130,000; Japan, $149,700; and Singapore, $154,000.

Source: PUNCH

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