UPDATED: Nigerian Senators Illegally Shared N228m, N3m for each 10 Principal Officers and N2m for 99 Floor Members
Exclusive report just reaching VERY SERIAL indicates that the 10 Principal Officers of the Nigerian Senate actually received N3million each while the 99 other floor members received N2million each as ‘vacation allowance’, bringing the total disbursement to N228million and not N218million as was earlier reported.
The President of the Nigerian Senate, Mr Godswill Akpabio publicly announced on the floor of their chamber on Monday that a particular amount of money had been sent to their accounts to enjoy their vacation.
According to Premium Times, each floor member senator received a minimum of N2 million as “vacation allowance” before proceeding on seven weeks of vacation. However the 10 principal officers of the Senate received N3million each, according to exclusive report obtained by VERY SERIAL. A senator confided to the online Newspaper that all the 109 senators in the upper chamber were paid the allowance for the vacation, which commenced on Monday and ends on 26 September.
With this updated analysis, the senators were paid a total of N228 million, having received N2 million each for 99 floor members and N3m for the 10 principal officers, to enjoy the vacation. The bank receipt alerts were received and acknowledged by the senators on 8 August before the public announcement.
What Exactly Did The President of The Nigerian Senate Said on Monday August 7th, 2023 Regarding Vacation Allowance?
“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 president of the Nigerian Senate 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.”
Was the N228m Shared to the 109 Nigerian Senators As “Vacation Allowance” Legal or Illegal?
The N2 million vacation 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. It is possible that 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.
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 President of the Nigerian senate per annum is N2,483,242, and therefore receives N248,424 as recess allowance while the Nigerian deputy senate president earns N2,309,166, and his recess allowance is N230,916.
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.
Nigerian Senators Under Fire Over Illegal N2m (floor members) N3m (Principal officers) Largesse Each Received As Holiday Allowance
Many Nigerians have condemned the Senate President after he inadvertently revealed that senators have been sent money to enable them to enjoy their oncoming holiday.
The Nigerian lawmakers have been accused of been selfish by putting their personal interests above national interest, submitting that despite the prevailing harsh economy conditions and extreme poverty across the nation where many are unable to get their daily meals and poverty ravaging the land, they had allocated collosal allowance all to themselves alone.
Some said the senators’ conduct was disgraceful, while the Senate was rowdy and unorganised during plenary.
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.
According to a Nigerian citizen, Samuel Okon quoted by Premium Times, says the problem of Nigeria was leadership, noting that there was a need for a change in the current crop of political leaders for the country to move forward. Hear him: “Akpabio’s comment was a confirmation that we do not have leaders in Nigeria but politicians who are only after their selfish interests. Look at how people are suffering and they still allocate huge allowances and other benefits to themselves. The earliest we recognise that these men are parasites to this blessed nation, the better we have a chance of moving ahead.”
Uwa Chukwudi, said there was no need for the current bi-cameral legislature because it was a waste, as most of the lawmakers were not contributing anything meaningful to the country. His words, “We don’t need a bicameral legislature; one house is okay. I think the current system is too expensive, I really don’t see what these guys are doing that we are paying them so much for. The senators are just sitting in the hall doing nothing yet they share taxpayers’ money at every given opportunity. I would suggest we revert back to the first republic system”.
Also speaking in a Twitter message on her handle, Kassandra Ugochukwu, said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers had instituted another form of corruption and money sharing in the National Assembly. According to her, “The era of ‘Ghana-Must-Go bags’ is over, the APC era is for tokens in their bank accounts or emails. No wonder they no longer fight on the floor of the house and none of them bring in thugs to hijack the mace to his village. It is all rubber stamps or paper marks.”
SERAP To Drag Akpabio To Court Over ‘Vacation Allowances’ Amid Rising Inflation, Extreme Poverty in Nigeria
Meanwhile the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) says it will file a lawsuit against Senate President Godswill Akpabio concerning the disbursement of “holiday allowances” to senators by the Clerk of the National Assembly.
This contentious move comes at a time when almost 70 per cent of Nigerians are grappling with severe economic challenges and extreme poverty with many unable to feed daily.
In a brief statement via its official X handle, SERAP announced that it was suing the Senate President who had made the gaffe announcement on Monday during plenary.
“We’re suing the Senate President Godswill Akpabio over the alleged payments of “holiday allowances” by the Clerk of the National Assembly into the “various accounts” of senators while some 137 million poor Nigerians face severe economic hardship,” SERAP stated.
Details of the lawsuit, including the petitioners and the specific charges, are yet to be disclosed. However, the move signifies rising tension and scrutiny over the management of public funds, especially in the light of the present economic climate.