By Ugonnabo Ngwu
The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central, Senator Shehu Sani, has spoken up on why he revealed that the nation’s legislators receive a princely N13.5m every month to expend on whatever that appeals to the lawmakers.
Sani, who sits in the Senate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, pointed out that there is little accountability about how the money is spent.
In an interview with the BBC, he called for the payments to be scrapped, saying they are a key reason why people choose to enter politics.
“I decided to bust it open. It was a moral issue,” Mr Sani told the BBC.
“The National Assembly is one of the most non-transparent organs of government. It pricked my conscience and I decided to burst the bubble and open the National Assembly to public scrutiny.”
“If the expenses payment system was ended then parliament would only be attractive to people who contribute ideas,” he said.
The money is paid on top of a senator’s salary which is more than $2,000 a month. They also receive a yearly constituency budget of $5.5m.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s minimum wage is just $50 a month.
The Senate had confirmed Sani’s revelation but described it as “nothing new”.
“Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices that cannot be said to be part of their salaries,” the upper legislative chamber’s spokesman had said.
However, the representative of Bayelsa East in the Senate, Ben Murray-Bruce, has broken silence on how he was resisted by colleagues while canvassing a reduction in what accrues to lawmakers.
In a series of tweets on Monday, he recalled telling senators upon assumption of office that if Nigerian legislators earned higher than European legislators then Nigerian workers should be paid higher than European workers.
“From the first day I got to the Senate, I advocated for lower wages and allowances for public officials and a higher minimum wage for the Nigerian worker. I was resisted and made the personal decision to share my allowances with widows in my constituency.
“If we must pay our legislators higher than they pay European legislators then we must pay our workers higher than they pay European workers,” Murray-Bruce wrote.