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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reversion of the Federal Appropriation Bills to 60% for capital development, 40% for recurrent expenditures including 5% for debt servicing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Placing a national moratorium on local and foreign borrowings and proactive management (repayment and reduction) by federal and State governments of the existing debts.
- 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”.