by Bosun Awoniyi

Nigerians from all walks of life are demanding for Change. The citizens has voted for change and want it to reflect in every system of governments. Coincidentally, change is the slogan of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). wpid-National-Assembly-Nigeria.jpg
In the March 28 election, former President Goodluck Jonathan lost to opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari (now president) who won by a landslide. The outcome of the presidential and state elections were indication of how much confidence voters have lost in Nigeria’s former government.
Many Nigerian voters were simply tired of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP faced widespread allegations of corruption during its rule, and was accused of failing to do enough to end an Islamist- led insurgency in the north-east where it suffered huge defeats.
However, in less than one month after President Buhari was inaugurated to take charge of affairs in Nigeria, the citizens of the West African nation are angry with lawmakers at the National Assemby following the 150 billion naira (over 750 million U.S. dollars) budgetary allocation.
Nigerians are also reacting to reports that an 8.64 billion naira (about 43 million dollars) wardrobe allowance had been earmarked for legislators in the 8th assembly.
Reacting to the development, Obi Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education, urged Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to organize a public debate about the allowances and salaries earned by federal legislators.
This is just as the senator representing Bayelsa-East senatorial district, Ben Murray-Bruce, backed calls for the reduction in the salaries and allowances of legislators.
Ezekwesili recalled that in 2013, she raised the alarm over the National Assembly’s budget but that she became a subject of rebuke by the lawmakers.
“Should our political elite continue to lack a sense of proportionality considering the extremely tough days and years ahead,” she added.
Ezekwesili also shared a 2013 chart published by The Economist which showed that Nigerian lawmakers were the highest paid in the world.
Also, Murray-Bruce, on his official Twitter handle, decried the jumbo pay for public servants.
Ibukun Falola, a banker told Xinhua that despite their dismal performances, the lawmakers remains the world’s highest paid legislators, adding that the whopping 150 billion naira allocated to the National Assembly in the 2015 Appropriation Act, can fund capital votes for 20 ministries, if not more.
He wants the Nigerian government to review and channel such huge funds toward improving the worsening condition of roads in the country.
“We voted out the PDP, because the party was heartless, it is just a matter of time for Nigerians to show the APC the way if it chooses not to change,” he said.
Gbenga Salami, an information technology expert, who also reacted to the lawmaker’s budget, said their work rate does not merit such a pay.
According to him, the miserable worth of Nigerian legislators’ output is amplified when compared with their Western counterparts, for instance.
Salami blasted the lawmakers’ turnover in terms performances, saying it has been poor, several critical bills lie abandoned.
Another Senator, Dino Melaye, the Senator representing central north Kogi West, condemned funds the National Assembly has earmarked as wardrobe allowance for the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.
The senator said it was morally wrong to pay such money to legislatures when people are hungry. Melaye said the idea was bad, adding that he stands by his words that there should be a pay cut in the chambers.
“You can’t be talking about change and this kind of money in this country now when people are hungry. We must be sacrificial. We must show Nigerians that we must sacrifice by allowing a pay cut,” he added.
But the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, has come out to defended the budgetary allocation, saying it is not excessive.
Lasun, while reacting to questions from reporters on the public criticism of huge salaries and allowances of the Senators and members of the House of Representatives, noted that the 150 billion naira received by the National Assembly annually is only 2. 67 percent of the national budget.
“When you talk about salary it has to be tied to something. Let me tell you this, for the last three years with the exception of 2015, the budget of National Assembly has been 150 billion naira and that is exactly 2.67 percent of the total budget of the federation, so I don’t know where people see this when they said it was 25 percent of the budget of the federation,” he added.
The lawmaker told reporters that people have suddenly forgotten and don’t know that there are 469 members in the National Assembly with each one having five aides, paid from the 150 billion naira with their technocrats.
“We have National Assembly commission all of them draw their salaries and allowances from the money,” he said. Enditem

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