Senators’ allowances nine times higher than basic pay

Senate President, Bukola Saraki

NIGERIANS that have expressed surprise that each senator receives N506,600 per annum as wardrobe allowance may be in for a shocker as the lawmakers receive far more allowances under different other categories.

Investigation by our correspondent on Monday showed that senators’ allowances totalled N18,642,880 on annual basis.

In all, the allowance each senator receives is nine times more than his annual salary.

A senator’s salary is pegged at N2,026,400 per annum.

Each senator or a member of the House of Representatives is entitled to 19 different allowances.

These allowances are for vehicle maintenance and fuelling; domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, personal assistant, constituency, wardrobe, house maintenance, newspapers, recess, accommodation, furniture, severance, tour duty, estacode, special assistant, security, legislative aide and medical.

These allowances are specified in the Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders prepared by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

On an annual basis, the 107 senators receive   N1,994,788,160 as allowances. Only 107 senators are eligible for these allowances. The President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate receive fewer allowances because most of their needs are fully provided for by the state.

For members of the House, the annual allowances payable are about eight times higher than their annual salaries.

While the annual salary of a House member is pegged at N1,985,212.50, the annual allowances add up to N15,286,135.25. This means that the 358 members of the House (excluding the speaker and the deputy speaker) get N5,472,436,419.5 annually in allowances.

The allowances, however, are in categories. Some are tagged regular while others are tagged irregular allowances.

Regular allowances are those that are paid on monthly basis along with the monthly salaries while irregular allowances are paid at other intervals, ranging from annual to once in four years.

There are also other allowances not included in this calculation that are paid not at any fixed periods but as many times as they occur in the year.

The allowances are calculated as percentages of the annual salaries. While some are higher than the annual salaries, others are lower.

Basically, both senators and Reps are paid the same percentages of their salaries as allowances, except the constituency allowance where senators are paid 250 per cent while Reps get 100 per cent of their annual salaries.

Vehicle maintenance and fuelling allowance is 75 per cent; domestic staff, 75 per cent; entertainment, 30 per cent; utilities, 30 per cent; wardrobe, 25 per cent; newspapers, 15 per cent; house maintenance, five per cent; and personal assistants, 25 per cent.

For a senator, therefore, the vehicle maintenance and fuelling allowance adds up to N1,519,800; domestic staff, N1, 519,800; entertainment, N607,920; utilities, N607,920; wardrobe, N506,600; newspapers, N303,960; house maintenance, N101,320; constituency, N5,066,000; personal assistant, N506,600.

For a member of the House of Representatives, the vehicle maintenance and fuelling allowance comes up to N1,488,909.40; domestic staff, N1,488,909.40; entertainment, N595,563.75; utilities, 595,563.75; wardrobe, N496,303.12; newspapers, N303,960; house maintenance, N99,260.62; constituency, N1,985,212.50; and personal assistant, N 496,303.12.

The irregular allowances include housing allowance, 200 per cent of the Reps annual salaries; furniture allowance, 300 per cent; recess allowance, 10 per cent and severance allowance, 300 per cent.

Housing allowance is paid once a year. Furniture allowance is paid once in four years and recess allowance is paid when the lawmakers are on recess and they go on recess four times in a year. Severance allowance is at the end of the four-year tenure.

The housing allowance of a senator is N4,053,800. The furniture allowance is N6,079,200. On annualised basis, the furniture allowance is N1,519,800. The recess allowance climbs to N810,560 if they go on recess four times a year. The severance allowance is N6,079,200. On annual basis, it comes down to N1,519,800.

For Reps, the housing allowance is N3,970,425. The furniture allowance is N5,955,637.50. Annually, the furniture allowance comes down to N1, 488,909.38. Also, recess allowance comes up to N794, 084. The severance allowance is N5,955,637.50. On annual basis, it comes down to N1,488,909.38.

There are other allowances that the lawmakers are not paid directly but provided and paid for by the government.

These are allowances for special assistants, security and legislative aides. What this means is that those engaged in these capacities are paid directly by the government as the allowances cannot be claimed by political office holders. These allowances apply to senators and Reps.

Medical expenses are also borne by the government when the lawmakers have need for the services.

The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance and estacode whenever they travel out of the country. For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37,000 per night while the estacode is $950 per night.

For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35,000 per night while the estacode is $900 per night.

Although political office holders in the country are among the highest paid government officials in the world, our correspondent reports that the worry of many Nigerians is not what they earn officially but what accrues to them through self-appropriation and corruption.

The budget of the National Assembly is never broken into components and efforts to get them to break down the budget have not yielded the required result even after the invocation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Lawmakers are known to collect huge quarterly allocations, some of which are ostensibly designated for constituency projects. The constituency allowance is different from the constituency project fund.

Constituency allowance is paid for the maintenance of constituency office and contact while constituency project fund are appropriated to enable the lawmakers to execute projects in their constituencies.

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