Nigeria’s Lawmakers Earn Highest Pay In The World – Sagay
BABATOLA MICHAEL 27/07/2010 20:19:00
LAGOS, July 27, (THEWILL) – A renowned scholar of law, Professor Itse Sagay today said Nigerian lawmakers at the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly are the highest paid legislators in the globe, saying their salaries and allowances represent a cruel anomaly in the country’s democratic governance.
The professor disclosed this at a lecture titled; ‘Legislating for the Common Good: Contemporary Issues and Perspectives’ to mark the 47th birthday of Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Opeyemi Bamidele.
According to Sagay, the anomaly is negative and a breach of public trust. “A senator earns N240 million ($1.7 million) in salaries and allowances while his House of representative counterpart earns about N204 million ($1.45 million) per annum,” Sagay said.
The Law Professor said an American senator “earns $174, 000 while a UK parliamentarian earns about $64, 000 per annum, which is very low compared to that of Nigerian lawmakers when compared with what their colleagues earn in the United States and United Kingdom.”
“In spite of the dismal standard of living, poverty of the country and low income per capita of the country, Nigerian legislators in Abuja have awarded themselves the highest salaries and allowances in the world.”
Sagay alleged that they were in the National Assembly to engage in the pursuit of self interest instead of serving the people of this country.
Continuing, he said, “In 2009, the federal legislators received a total of N102.8 billion comprising N11.8 billion as salaries and N90.96 billion as non taxable allowances,” thus bemoaning the outrageous pay.
He described it as a tragic situation that is clearly unsustainable, saying the anomaly “is seriously endangering our democracy.”
He argued that it was debatable to spend $1.7 million on each of 109 senators and $1.45 million on each of 360 members of the House of Representatives when the President of the richest country in the world, Mr. Barrack Obama earned just $400, 000 per annum.
He said Nigerian Senate President earned N88.33 million per month while his deputy earned N50 million, comparing their pay with what US President Barrack Obama who “earns $400,000 per annum while British Prime Minister David Cameron goes home with 190,000 pounds.”
He explained that the Senate “allocates N1.24 billion as quarterly allowances to its 10 principal officers known collectively as Senate leadership while each of the other principal officers earn N78 million every three months.
“The tragic state of affairs is clearly unsustainable. Those engaged in this feeding frenzy are endangering our democracy,” he warned.
ALTHOUGH Nigeria ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of $2,249 per annum as against $46,350 in the United States (U.S.), Nigerian Senators have emerged as the highest paid in the world, each earning more than President Barack Obama of the U.S.
Legal luminary, Professor Itse Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made the allegation yesterday, while delivering a lecture on “Legislating for Common Good: Contemporary Issues & Perspective”, as part of activities to mark the 47th birthday of the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, in Lagos.
According to the lawyer, Obama, who is reputed to be the President of the richest country in the world, earns $400,000 per annum.
“The British Prime Minister earns 190,000 Pounds,” he said.
The Senate President in Nigeria, he alleged, earns N250 million quarterly or N83 million per month whilst his deputy earns N50 million monthly.
The Senate President, he assumed, has allocated N1.024 billion as quarterly allowance to its 10 principal officers known collectively as Senate Leadership.
“Each of the other principal officers earn N78 million every three months or N26 million per month,” Sagay said.
He also pointed out that Nigerian Legislators have awarded themselves the highest salaries and allowances in the world.
“In other words, Nigerian lawmakers in Abuja are the highest paid in the world. In 2009, a Senator earned N240 million in salaries and allowances, whilst his House of Representatives counterpart earned N203,760,000 million. In other words, a senator earned about $1.7 million and a member of the House of Representatives earned $1.45 million per annum,” the lawyer said.
He suspected that by contrast, an American Senator in that year, earned $174,000, while his counterpart in Britain earned $64,000 per annum.
“This tragic state of affairs is clearly unsustainable. Those engaged in this feeding frenzy are endangering our democracy,” he said.
Sagay is raising this alarm just few years after former Minister of Information, Mr. Tony Momoh, wrote in an article, entitled “The Salary Time Bomb”, about the bloated salaries of political office holders, arguing that unless something is done about it, Nigeria will gradually grind to a halt.
Sagay also observed that in 2009, a federal legislator received N102.8 billion comprising N11.8 billion as salaries and N90.96 billion (non-taxable) as allowances.
The lawyer argued that by the current computation, the 109 senators and the 360 members of the House of Representatives gulp five per cent of the total annual budget while less than 150 million Nigerians receive about N1000 each.
The Senior Advocate noted that rather than operate to protect the interest of the nation, the lawmakers have jettisoned the interest of the nation for self interest.
“Instead of serving the people of this country, they are engaged in the pursuit of self interest, to a degree that can only be regarded as shocking,” he said.