By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor (Vanguard)
The controversy over the monthly salary of a Nigerian lawmaker has finally been laid to rest with a formal disclosure of what the legislators earn. The National Institute of Legislative Studies, NILS, apparently worried by growing public outcry against the Nigerian lawmakers, on Friday released a set of documents, showing what constitutes the earnings of the 109 Senators and 360 members of the Nigerian House of Representatives.
The documents, which were made available to Vanguard in Abuja on Friday, indicated that the Nigerian lawmakers earn perhaps one of the least salaries among legislators in the world, as against the notion that their pay was outrageous.
Apart from releasing global comparative figures drawn from nine countries, the NILS also gave a breakdown of what constitutes the monthly take-home pay of each Nigerian lawmaker. The figure shows that while a Nigerian Senator gets an annual basic salary of N2,026,400,00 a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives goes home with N1,985,212, 50 per year.
But beyond that a Senator takes home a bouquet of allowances which hike their salary to N12, 902, 360.00 while their House of Representatives counterpart goes home with N9,525,985.50 annually.
Thus, for the four-year tenure which the lawmaker stay in the NASS, the Nigerian government spends a total of N1, 406,357,240.00 as basic salary on the 109 Senators and N3,428,994,780.00 on the 360 members of the House of Representatives.
The breakdown of the allowances are on: Vehicle fuelling/maintenance, Constituency, Domestic Staff, Personal Assistant, Entertainment, Recess, Utilities, Newspaper/Periodicals, Houses Maintenance, Wardrobe, Estacode, Duty Tour, which attract more money available to the lawmakers than their basic salaries.
Beyond that, the lawmakers earn special amount in every four-year period on Accommodation, vehicle loan, furniture, and severance allowance, which make every Senator to pocket N24,090,000.00 and a House of Representatives member to go home with N23,822,00.00 within the same period.
Thus for every four year which a lawmaker stays in the NASS, the Federal Government spends N2,625, 810,000.00 on accommodation, vehicle loans, furniture and severance gratuity on the 109 senators and N8,575,920,000.00 on the 360 House of Representatives members.
This payment brings the total expenditure of the government to N33, 992, 360 for the senators and N33,347, 985, 50 on the members of the HoR. The figures are lower when compared to what their counterparts in eight other countries earn.
But the monies Nigerian lawmakers earn from their oversight functions and other sources make them big earners.
A global comparison released by the NILS shows that lawmakers in the Philippines earn the highest annual basic salary of $4, 497,957, followed by their counterparts in the United States of America where a Senator goes home with $3,409,422 while a member of the US House of Representatives takes $1,429,909 home annually.
This is followed by lawmakers in Kenya who earn $968,013 per annum followed by their counterparts in Australia who take home $646,230 while those in the United Kingdom go home with £494,285.43.
The list is followed by lawmakers from India, who earn $474,484, Singapore with $253,469, and Tanzania with $230,961.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian government has been spending a total of N150 billion per year on the NASS but has been forced to step it down to N120 billion this year following rising outcry that the lawmakers are taking too much from the Federation Account leaving little for other sectors.