House Speaker, Deputy pocket N1.4b ($9m) “quarterly allowance”

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By News Express
Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, and the Deputy Speaker, Sir Emeka  Ihedioha, are paid an outrageous N1.4 billion (about $9 million) yearly  as “quarterly allowance,” it has been alleged.
The allegation is contained in an open letter addressed to Dr. Ngozi  Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister & Coordinating Minister of the  Economy, by the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety).
The letter, a copy of which was sent to News Express, was  dated September 30 and entitled “Nigeria Desperately Needs Another  Iweala Magic As She Celebrates Huge Public Debts Of Approximately $100  billion (N15 trillion), Outrageous Recurrent Expenditures, Corruption  And Underdevelopment At 52: A Document For Records & Socio-economic  Revolution.”
In the letter by the Onitsha, Anambra State-based NGO, the Chairman,  Board of Trustees, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head, Publicity Desk,  Comrade Justus Ijeoma, lamented that Nigeria, again,  is a leading global indebted country and has gone back to the highly  indebted poor country status (HIPC) which she exited via ‘Iweala Magic’ in 2006; that the country’s current total public debts are approximated  at $100 billion or N15.5 trillion.”
Intersociety identified the outrageous emoluments of Nigeria’s public officers as a big factor in the heavy debt profile and the country’s  economic travails.
Said the group: “It may be correct to say that the Speaker of the  House of Reps and the Deputy Speaker are paid N1.4 billion yearly as “quarterly allowance”. The various standing committees and other  principal leaderships in the Senate and the House of Reps may be  collecting approximately N12 billion per annum as quarterly allowance on average of N200 million each per quarter. There may be over 60 standing committees and leaderships in the two houses. In all, there may be  extra N60 billion spent annually on the 469 federal lawmakers and their  leaderships in the form of “quarterly allowances”. This huge sum is  totally unknown to the Salaries & Allowances amended Act of 2008.  Further breakdown shows that the 360 members of the House of Reps are  paid extra N38.88billion annually (N27 million each). The 109 Senators  are paid N16.7 billion (N38 million each). The sum of about N3 billion  goes to the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and  Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, while N12 billion goes to their  standing committees and others.”
Intersociety observed that “the federal executive arm is also not  left out in this official thievery legitimatised through criminal  appropriations,” adding: “It may be correct to say that the origin of  the so-called ‘constituency projects’ of N100 billion in the federal  budget initiated by the federal lawmakers is traced to the so-called ‘presidential safety net’ of N100 billion reportedly initiated by the  federal executives, which has remained fiscally inexplicable to  Nigerians for years. The conspiracy of the highest order between the  federal lawmakers and the executives in this respect abounds. It may  most likely be correct to say that two sets of salaries and allowances  codes clearly exist in Nigeria today; the ones contained in the 2008  amended Salaries & Allowances Act and ones smuggled into the  Appropriation Acts. It is no longer news that a Nigerian Federal  lawmaker earns much more than each of the leaders of US, UK, Japan,  France, South Africa, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Russia, Portugal,  the Council of Europe, Austria, Denmark and Mexico. In spite of these  outrageous earnings and official thievery, Nigeria’s federal lawmakers’ legislative performance index is one of the lowest in the world. Their  oversight duties, which are lowest in the standard legislative duties’ calendar globally, have taken over their core legislative duties because of their reported juicy nature. They no longer legislate for social  change and welfare of the society but for their private pockets.”
Intersociety made wide-ranging observations and demands, among them:
  1. Amendment of all existing Acts of the Federation as they concern  allowances paid to 17,500 top Nigeria’s public officers and other senior public /civil servants from level 13 and above, with a view to cutting  down their allowances by 60% for 17,500 top public officers and 40% for  other senior public/civil servants. One of those Acts to be amended is  the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act of 2002  as amended (2008). For instance, our express calculation is that if the  N550billion spent annually on 12,788 LGAs top officers’ allowances is  cut by 60%, then N330billion will be saved and channeled into capital  development. Also all duplicated allowances like “furniture allowance” and “accommodation allowance” contained in the federal lawmakers’ allowances should be identified and deleted alongside those considered  irrelevant and utterly wasteful.
  2. Abolition of quarterly allowances to the federal and State lawmakers and their executive counterparts (if any), under whatever names called  and reduction of those allowances spent quarterly on the offices of the  Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps and their standing committees, etc by 60%. This  should also be extended to State Assemblies and members of the Federal  and State Executive Councils including president, vice president,  governors and deputy governors.
  3. Strict adherence to the provisions of the Salaries & Allowances  for Top Public Office Holders Act 2008 (amended) and abolition of dual  allowances provided under whatever names called in the appropriation  Acts, etc.
  4. Discontinuation of indiscriminate and outrageous hikes in the  appropriation bills of the Federation especially by the National  Assembly and MDAs and strict scrutiny of budget proposals of the  National Assembly, especially its recurrent and overhead costs.
  5. Reversion of the Federal Appropriation Bills to 60% for capital  development, 40% for recurrent expenditures including 5% for debt  servicing.
  6. Under recurrent expenditures: reduction of all overheads by 40%  including the security votes and other relevant overheads of the  presidency, the governors and leaderships of the federal and State  legislative chambers.
  7. Cutting down the overhead and personnel spending on defence and  increasing its capital spending for renovation of barracks, construction of new ones, procurement of security vehicles and modern policing tools and building of security intelligence universities. Also, the planned  recruitment of 280,000 more persons into the NPF should be put on hold  and serving ones re-trained on modern and scientific policing. A  situation where the huge sum of N921billion (2012 defence budget) is  spent to track down young physicists from some northern universities and polytechnics who make and use local explosive devices made and corked  in used “coca cola and fanta” cans, with Libyan and Somalia-bound  AK-47s, speaks volume of political leaders in Nigeria replicating “blood diamond” saga in Sierra Leone and Liberia, akin to merchants of death.
  8. Placing a national moratorium on local and foreign borrowings and  proactive management (repayment and reduction) by federal and State  governments of the existing debts.
  9. Merging federal ministries, parastatals and departments and cutting  down the number of ministers and special advisers as well as reducing  the present number of inferior public aides (approximately 24,165) in  Nigeria by 60%. Huge expenditures associated with official foreign  travels by the executives and the legislators in the country should be  drastically cut down.
10.  Exposing Nigeria’s enormous investment potentials to the outside world, not by globetrotting, but by addressing frontally problems of  insecurity, awkward trade policy/legislation, and corruption and  epileptic power failure.
11.  Abolishing from the Appropriation Acts the so-called  constituency projects that engulf N100billion annually and removing the  so-called “presidential safety Net” if still found that also consumes  N100billion annually.
12.  Ensuring that the DMO keeps to its recent public promise of  releasing the domestic debts profiles of the 36 States and the FCT by  the end of October 2012, which have for years been shrouded in uttermost secrecy.
13.  Amending the EFCC and the ICPC acts of the Federation to provide for stiffer sanctions especially to provide for longer years of jail  sentence. A situation whereby an embezzler of N50billion is sentenced  for six months imprisonment whereas a stealer of bush meat is sent to  five years jail term is socially abominable and globally abhorrent.
14.  Making the Chapter Two of the Constitution legally actionable or as “Fundamental   Human Rights”.
15.  Passing the Social Security Bill into law and ensuring that it is fully implemented.
Granting full autonomy to the Nigerian Local Government System and  abolishing the so-called “States and Local Government Joint Accounts”.

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