Mother of wastage: Saraki, non re-elected Nigerian lawmakers to get N1.3bn severance allowance
London, March 31, 2019 (AltAfrica)- Senate President Bukola Saraki and 216 lawmakers not re-elected in the recent National Assembly elections are to receive severance allowances amounting to N1.3bn, a document seen by Punch has shown.
According to the report, other prominent lawmakers that would be entitled to the severance package are a former Senate President, David Mark; a former Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio; and an entertainment entrepreneur, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, as well as Senator Binta Garuba.
Others are former governors – Rabiu Kwankwaso, George Akume, Ahmed Yerima, Abiodun Olujimi as well as Senators Shehu Sani, Andy Ubah and Mao Ohuabunwa.
A former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Barnabas Gemade, and the 2019 All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Ebonyi State, Sonny Ogbuorji, are also on the list.
Some of the lawmakers did not seek re-election; some lost the nomination of their parties while some lost the National Assembly elections.
According to a document, Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders 2008, a non-returning senator is entitled to a severance allowance of N6,079,200. The severance allowance of a Senate President is N7,452,727.50.
On the other hand, a non-returning member of the House of Representatives is entitled to N5,955,637.5.
There are 66 senators and 151 Reps who will not be making it back to the red and green chambers, respectively in the 9th National Assembly expected to be inaugurated on June 6.
This means that the 66 non-retuning senators will be paid a total of N401,227,200 as a farewell package.
Similarly, the 151 Reps will be paid a total of N899,301,262.5 to bid farewell to the National Assembly where they had worked, at least, in the last four years.
Severance allowance is one of the irregular allowances that are paid to lawmakers. The irregular allowances are not paid on a monthly basis. They are housing allowance, 200 per cent of their 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; and the furniture allowance is N6,079,200. The recess allowance climbs to N810, 560 if they go on recess four times a year. The severance allowance is N6,079,200.
For the Reps, the housing allowance is N3,970,425. The furniture allowance is N5,955,637.50. Also annualised, recess allowance comes up to N794,084. The severance allowance is N5,955,637.50. On an 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 by the government. These are 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 undertaken by the government when they have a need for the services.
The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance, estacode (when they travel). For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37,000 per night; the estacode is $950 per night.
For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35,000 per night; the estacode is $900 per night.
There had been attempts to review the allowances of lawmakers, which some Nigerians consider as outsized compared to the nation’s economic situation.
However, each attempt made by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to review the allowances had never worked out.
According to the prescription of the subsisting law, senators’ allowances total N18,642,880 on an annual basis. The allowances received by each senator are nine times higher than the official annual salary they receive. The salary is pegged at N2,026,400 per annum.
For members of the House of Representatives, the annualised allowances are about eight times higher than the annual salaries.
While the annual salary of a member of the House of Representative is pegged at N1, 985,212.50, the annualised allowances come up to N15, 286,135.25.
Regular allowances are those that are paid on a monthly basis along with the monthly salaries while irregular allowances are paid at other frequencies, 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 in constituency allowance where senators are paid 250 per cent while Reps are 100 per cent.
Apart from the documented allowances, some hefty earnings of lawmakers have remained hidden.
Senator Shehu Sani sometime in 2018 removed the lid when he disclosed that each senator received N40.5m every quarter as running cost. This amounts to N13.5m a month.
Similarly, a Rep gets about N30m a quarter as running cost.