Senate President Godswill Akpabio, on Monday, told the senators that some money had been sent to their accounts to enjoy their holidays.
Nigerian senators illegally share N218 million as “holidays” allowance
Each serving senator received not less than N2 million as allowance before proceeding on seven weeks of vacation, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
A senator who requested not to be named because he was not authorised by the upper house to speak on the matter confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that all the 109 senators were paid the allowance for the holidays, which commenced on Monday and ends on 26 September.
A calculation done by PREMIUM TIMES showed that the senators were paid a total of N218 million, having received N2 million each to enjoy the vacation.
The bank alerts were received by the senators on 8 August, just before the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, announced it.
Announcing the largesse
Mr Akpabio, on Monday, told the senators that some money had been credited to their accounts to enjoy their holidays.
“In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly,” he said shortly after screening and confirming the ministerial nominees.
The senate president was immediately informed by his colleagues that he was speaking on live television.
Upon realising the seriousness of his remarks, he quickly announced its withdrawal and rephrased his statement, saying that the senate president sent prayers to the mailboxes of the senators.
“I withdraw that statement. In order to allow you to enjoy your holiday, the senate president has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return.”
More for presiding officers?
It is not clear if the presiding officers, namely the senate president and the deputy senate president, also got N2 million each going by the difference in salaries and allowances they earn and those of the other senators in the remuneration package approved by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Also, it is expected that the principal officers would earn higher allowances than their colleagues.
There are eight principal officers, with the majority party, APC, having four and the minority, comprising the six opposition parties, also having four.
The principal officers are the senate leader, deputy senate leader, chief whip and deputy chief whip.
There are also minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip.
Illegal “token” for senators
The N2 million allowance given to the senators is illegal as no such provision is made in the remuneration package approved by RMAFC, the body authorised by law to prepare salaries and allowances for public servants.
There is also no provision for “token” in the commission’s document, as stated by Mr Akpabio while announcing the largesse to the senators.
The lawmakers are, however, entitled to “recess” allowance under the law, which is 10 per cent of the annual basic salary of each legislator, and is paid once a year.
According to the package prepared by RMAFC, a senator earns N2,026,400 and therefore gets N202,240 as a recess allowance per annum.
The basic salary of the senate president per annum is N2,483,242, and therefore receives N248,424 as recess allowance.
On his part, the deputy senate president earns N2,309,166, and his recess allowance is N230,916.
N70bn “support ” for lawmakers’ working conditions
There are speculations the N2 million each of the senators got was drawn from the N70 billion allocated to the National Assembly in the amended 2022 supplementary budget.
President Bola Tinubu had in June proposed the allocation in the Supplementary budget “to support the working conditions of new members.” It was immediately approved by the lawmakers.
The fresh allocation came despite the huge allocation of N228.1 billion to the National Assembly in the 2023 budget. The figure was an increase of about N59.1 billion from N169 billion proposed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in the budget.
Akpabio’s gaffes and public outrage on Senators
The announcement by Mr Akpabio that senators had been paid “a token” stirred anger and outrage from Nigerians, considering the hardship many are going through as a result of the removal of petroleum subsidy.
Many Nigeriàns have also questioned the ability of the Akpabio-led senate to fight corruption and assist in developing the country’s economy.
But it was not the first time the senate president will make such a gaffe.
Last month, he was filmed on live trivialising “Let The Poor Breathe,” a phrase commonly used to criticise the hardship Nigerians are currently going through.
But in a statement, Mr Akpabio explained it was not intentional to insult the people, adding that he was not unaware of the hardship Nigerians were facing.
He said the motive behind “Let The Poor Breathe” “was to firmly reject any plan of increasing electricity tariffs for Nigerians, considering the ongoing economic challenges that Nigerians are faced with.”
“We are deeply concerned about the negative tilting of a very harmless statement by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, about his deep concern and that of the Senate on the plight of the ordinary Nigerians as a result of the prevailing economic situation in the country,” the statement by the media unit of the office of the Senate president
Credit to: premiumtimesng.com