Saturday 28 September 2013

Nigeria: How much do we pay our lawmakers? - Part II

Back on the streets
The Nigerian youth marched out to our legislative houses all around the country on Thursday the 26th of September 2013.
On Twitter, they mustered and gathered organised under the Twitter hashtag of #OurNASS where Nigerians demanded accountability, transparency and better representation. [Al Jazeera]
The occupation of elected political office had long shifted from the call to service to what was self-serving interests exemplified by outrageous remunerations that make the eyes water.
A salary to feast on
It is the long held belief that our democracy is both profligate and extravagant, it is safe to assume that the cost is unsustainable.
However, when the people congregated at the National Assembly in Abuja, some senators braved the crowds and came out to chat with the people where for the very first time a senator presented his payslip detailing the salary for one month paid in January 2010, in the previous electoral cycle as tabulated below:

Without considering inflationary changes and reassessments up to 2013, this alone presents an interesting reading on the percentages scale.
Multiples beyond belief
A senator will take 735% in allowances beyond his basic salary monthly with 200% going to housing and 250% going to managing a constituency office.
If the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions total more than the basic salary, you then wonder if the allowances are taxed too.
Besides this, the vehicle loan is 400% of annual basic salary, but if a term is 4 years, how does a senator pay off that loan without seeking extra funds over and above the salary?

It would mean the legislator will would have either to meet that from the allowance pool or engage in other business activity to meet possible shortfalls, this remuneration structure is uneconomical and presents the framework for nefarious activity, possibly corruption.
Not sustainable
What does not show in this salary payslip is the furniture allowance, which is 75% of annual salary paid in a lump sum at the commencement of legislative tenure and 5% for housing allowance.
We still need to get a current figure representing what we pay our legislators but in percentage terms with reference to the basic salary, it is unlikely as I have said before that any private sector job rewards people this well, this democracy at this rate and cost is unsustainable.
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