Salaries and allowances of Nigerian Lawmakers in 2022
The fact that Nigerian lawmakers earn the highest salaries worldwide is no longer breaking news. When this information was first made public a few years ago by the renowned worldwide publication The Economist of London, Nigerian lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to defend the massive salary package. Since Economic Confidential recently confirmed that Nigerian lawmakers are truly the most hugely paid in the world with a basic salary of $189,500 (N30.6 million) annually, minus allowances, the issue is once again at the forefront of public discourse. It is sad that Nigeria has the world’s most expensive democracy, as the magazine pointed out.
Even Kenya, which stands in second place on the disgraceful list of expensive democracies, does not pay its parliamentarians even half the salary of Nigerian MPs. Out of the 28 countries analyzed, the gap gets wider over time. The Nigerian legislature was described as the “filthiest battleground of the most corrupt politicians in the world” in an earlier investigation by The Economist magazine. Unfortunately, increased government spending has not resulted in appreciable growth and development, as Nigeria is one of the world’s poorest nations. More than half of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, and many people have continued to live in utter poverty.
The Problem with the huge pay of the Nigerian lawmakers
Nigeria is currently running a deteriorated infrastructure (particularly in the areas of roads and power supply), which has contributed to the demise of numerous companies as well as a high unemployment rate. Additionally, macroeconomic measures such as the balance of payments, import debt, inflation rate, exchange rate, and national savings show that Nigeria has not performed well over the past two years. The Nigerian federal legislative body is one branch of government that would be recognized for this ignoble role in developing and institutionalizing the culture of secrecy and high cost of administration in the polity. For instance, the overall budget of the National Assembly was around N23.347 billion in 2003.
The amount increased to approximately N32.229 billion the next year and then to N55.422 billion in 2005. Even though the amount decreased to N39.810 billion in 2006, allocations have continued to rise ever since. The budget for the National Assembly increased from N66.488 billion in 2007 to an alarming N104.825 billion in 2008, then slightly decreased to N96.052 billion in 2009. In 2010, the allocation did a geometric climb, soaring to previously unheard-of heights and reaching a peak of nearly N154.2 billion.
However, it was 150 billion between 2011 and 2015 before falling to 115 billion in 2016. The extravagant salaries of Nigeria’s senators highlight some important issues. For instance, does Nigerian lawmaking entail that our legislature should be the most expensive in the world? Do our parliamentarians work harder than those in other countries, or are they simply more greedy? Should the nation bear the costs of its excesses and wastes on aid platoons?
It is unfortunate that the Federal Government estimated a similar amount of money in the 2013 Appreciation Act for new homes and utilities for only about six Nigerians in privileged positions, despite former President Goodluck Jonathan providing a pitiful N17 billion in 2012 to ease the suffering of the devastating flooding that ravaged over 40 million Nigerians across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). A hefty sum of N5.8 billion was swallowed to build new living quarters and an office complex for the National Assembly’s top officials (the Senate President and his deputy). In the 2013 Appropriations Act, the FG estimated N5 billion for the President’s and his vice’s international visits as well as the repair of their official houses.
It was also reported that the Presidency reportedly spent a staggering N733,893,900 on food, drinks, culinary items, and catering supplies for the President and his vice. While thousands of Nigerians perish each year due to poor infrastructure, malnutrition, and diseases brought on by poor leadership, this ridiculous and exorbitant spending was recommended. What materials will be used for the official houses’ walls and floors? What sort of fixtures and facilities will be installed in such homes to justify spending such a horrifying sum of money? People who are overcome by their sense of grandeur should be reminded that Blair House, where the US Vice President lives, is located on a naval base and is owned by the US Navy.
Incredibly irresponsible campaign expenditures
Political campaigns in Nigeria are highly funded by politicians. The majority, if not all, of these campaigns lack workable manifestos that would address the voters’ most pressing issues. Instead, they serve as fronts for defamatory smearing of other candidates and their political organizations. They spend a lot of money bribing prominent voters and municipal officials in the hope that there will be enough resources for them to recover once in office. This is a political investment for these people. Even though it is stated in Section 91(4) of the Electoral Act (2010) that “the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at an election to the National Assembly with respect to a senatorial seat shall be 40 million while the seat for House of Representatives shall be 20 million,” candidates frequently spend more than this amount.
The failures of INEC and EFCC
The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has not developed practical means to stop this breach, which is closely related to electoral violence, nor have there been suitable sanctions for violators. While INEC is able to create quasi-legislation to achieve its goals, it is powerless to impose penalties for excessive campaign spending. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is a similarly capable organization that might be permitted to prosecute such offences. The agency’s legitimacy, though, is even in doubt.
A comparison between lawmakers’ salaries and that of ordinary Nigerian workers
PayScale Salary Data and Career Research Center (Nigeria) claims that a research platform based in the United States of America provides the following occupations and their average yearly salaries.
- Nurse – ₦808,000
- Graphic designer – ₦607,000
- Civil engineer — ₦1,258, 718
- Project Manager — ₦3,030,417
- HR — ₦2,178,035
By contrasting the salaries above with those of Nigerian lawmakers’ using the table below:
Accordingly, a senator from Nigeria makes more money each year than 81 minimum-wage workers, 36 nurses on an average salary, 48 graphic designers, 23 engineers, around 10 project managers, and 13 HR managers.
If, in the second decade of the 21st Century, we still have leaders who have no empathy for the governed, when will such backward preferences as profligacy, corruption, and abuse of office fade into the shadowy chasm of a distant, infamous history in Nigeria? However, it is comforting to know that some civil society organizations, such as the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), have expressed their profound disappointment and sadness over such outrageous expenditures and have firmly distanced themselves from the conceit of grandeur that encourages our public officials to overstep the legal bounds set for them.
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