Nigerian Lawmakers, Highest Paid In The World – Report
The Economist’s review of lawmakers’ salaries in 29 nations unsurprisingly hurled Nigeria up the pay rungs, at $189, 500 (about N30 million) in average annually for each Senator or member of the House of Representatives. The figure is second only to Australia.
Relative to each country’s per capita- how much each citizen of each nation is worth when their nation’s total wealth is shared by her population- Nigeria assumed its rightful top, followed by Kenya and Ghana, two other poor African nations, relative to other matched countries.
Put simply, if Nigeria’s national cake were shared equitably, and each of its nearly 170 million got $1,500 (per capita) as the World Bank says, then what the lawmakers are taking is 116 times what the “ordinary” Nigerian receives. On that scale, Kenyan lawmakers take 75 times their citizens’, and for Ghana, it is 29.8 times.
Down the ladder, that ratio in Norway, one of the world’s most prosperous nations, is 1.8. It is 3.8 in United States, which pays its lawmakers an average annual salary of $174 thousand; and it is 2.7 in Britain where a Member of Parliament is paid $105.4 thousand.
When a fortnight ago, the United Kingdom’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority mulled a raise for the MPs, to about $113.12 thousand, some lawmakers themselves, vowed to fight the move planned for implementation in 2015.
The Labour chair of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz, said: “The last thing MPs should be talking about is their own pay rise.”
For all its jolt, the Nigerian story is far more heinous as the Economist’s account merely considered the main salaries and allowances as stipulated by the Revenue and Fiscal Mobilization Commission, which sets lawmakers pay at a few millions monthly, all allowances inclusive.
What constitutes the real chunk of the package or, what makes the Nigerian federal lawmaker different, aloofly branded “running cost” by the legislators, and called “jumbo allowance” by Nigerians, were clearly excluded.
Side by side, the “jumbo” pay alone, drawn quarterly, rates with, or easily surpasses the entire year’s pay which already sets Nigeria ahead of other countries. It is the package the lawmakers have long mastered how to conceal from the public, preferring to divulge only the details of the RMFAC-approved salary.
By 2011, the Senate’s quarterly “running cost” was jerked to N45 million per member, while the House members received N36 million. A hostile public response subsequently forced the earnings down to what has remained an unclear rate since. Officially, the lawmakers claimed the package was lowered by 63%, but that has been refuted by lawmakers speaking informally.
Since then, the Senate and the House have refused to disclose their member’s exact earnings.
If such prospect existed, it seemed foreclosed after both chambers tacitly included the National Assembly amongst a number of institutions like INEC, Courts, given statutory allocations from the budget, meaning their funding will no longer subject to an executive or even legislative approval.
With that new status came more secrecy, as previously available spending details have been since curtailed from the public.
But insiders have said the farthest reduction both chambers effected at the time, must have lonely limited the Senate’s “running cost” to over N30 million, and House of Representatives to N27 million.
For the four quarters annually, that would total between N100 million and N180 million respectively per member (averagely $1 million and more) – far more than the earnings of lawmakers in other nations listed by the Economist.
So huge have the sums been from the start that sustaining it, under former Speaker of the House, Dimeji Bankole, required drawing a credit from a commercial bank. The move turned out to be one of the many transgressions Mr. Bankole still faces charges today.
On the Economist’s list, countries often compared to Nigeria on population, economy and security, found the lawmakers’ pay, finally, as the differing point.
Pakistan, for instance pays its lawmakers $3,500, Bangladesh pays $4,000 and Sri Lanka pays $5,100. Their per capita ratio to the population stands at 2.8, 4.9 and 1.9 respectively.
For Nigeria, again, the ratio is 116.
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