Tuesday 19 February 2008

Nigeria: Percentage Allowance Legislators

Note: The original graphic in this blog has been lost and the link to the article which I originally sourced from the Punch newspaper is unfortunately dead. The point this blog makes is that legislators take away 1,260% of their basic salary in allowances for cars, clothes, entertainment, newspapers, holiday pay, accommodation and much else.
Allowances by huge percentages
The salary that goes with the plumiest job in the world has taken on rockets and flown right into the stratosphere. Over 4 years some people would be on this Orient Express gravy train living large in such opulence that is way beyond the dreams of their constituents.
Our lawmakers in the Nigerian National Assembly would be able to claim allowances equivalent to 1,000% of their annual basic salary possibly tax free as allowances to seek accommodation, furnish their accommodation, buy a vehicle and be dressed up to the nines.
Dress the legislator
Before we get to the figures, it is interesting that they are concerned about such minutiae as their wardrobe which for men would be flowing gowns 10 times the size of the wearer.
In a throwback to the colonial days of the District Officer they would have domestic staff that would include a steward, a cook, a housekeeper and a gardener.
They also get paid for being on recess and we can assume there are two recesses in a legislative year and we also pay for their newspapers.
Missing some essentials?
However, I think for legislators, a good deal of the important things necessary to be a legislator in the West are missing and I suppose that is because our legislators who would be walking on cloud 20 are not necessarily representatives of any constituency.
In the expenses scandals that have bothered UK Members of Parliament, one gleaned that a legislator usually requires an office, a secretary and possibly an office administrator, a number of researchers and usually a number of trips to manage constituency matters – I see no allowances that cover those aspects.
My suspicion is, beyond these allowances they would still be able to claim additional expenses to cover these matters along with a chauffeur for the executive vehicle.
Nice job, if you can get it
I know not of any job anywhere that offers this kind of largesse, ordinary people are usually supposed to pay for all these things out of their basic salaries.
It would be different if the legislators really get down to doing stuff that helps build Nigeria but with them fed and fattened to the extent that they would not be able to get out of their opulent furniture to walk through the widest doors on earth, this would be gravy-train par excellence and it grates.
Hike linked to inflation?
One cannot say why the total salary bill for our national politicians has been hiked by 31.67% from NGN 41 billion to NGN 60 billion because there has to be some economic sense to flooding the economy with an additional NGN 19 billion for work that is not even in any productive sector of the economy.
It might be that the legislators know something we do not, which is inflation in Nigeria is running at over 30% and really everyone should be irresponsibly be given a salary raise commensurate with the level of inflation.
Now we can look at the figures, over 4 years; a senator would earn NGN 2 million per annum plus the 1,260% in allowances that is NGN 8 million plus 12.6 times the annual salary (NGN 25.2 million), this would all come to NGN 33.2 million or $277,638.
Not representative at all
It might look small, but this is in a country where according to the World Bank, 90% of the population lives on less than $2/day which when summed up comes to $2,920 if the person did make $2 for every single day for four years.
It is then no surprise that electioneering is a fight to the death because there are few jobs that pay like this without extensive influence peddling.
The multiplier effect of the percentage allowance scheme is quite instructive because from another perspective it shows the multiples of ones salary required in getting these basic needs and hopefully the numbers were not just plucked out of the air.
Welcome to the plumiest job on earth, being a Nigerian legislator.

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