*No truth in the allegationâ€”Hon. Eyiboh
By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”THERE are indications that the House of Representatives may have perfectedÂ plans to collapse the N15 billion capital vote towards converting it to allowance for the third quarter of this year.
But the House Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh has denied the allegations.
Eyiboh told Vanguard: â€œThe Speaker has no prerogative to appropriate money to members. Membersâ€™ salaries and allowances are statutorily regulated and any increment in public service expenditure is usually guided by need assessment and benchmark appraisal. National Assembly (Senate and Reps) has one budget. The speculation is as needless as its origin.â€
The subsisting quarterly allowance to each member of the House as specified by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, is N27.2 million for each member or N9.8 billion for the entire House.
According to our source who was at the meeting where the decision was taken, members of the House want the N27.2 million upped to N42 million. This he said is predicated on the fact that the Senate may have also jerked up theirs to N49 or more from N35 million.
If the N42 billion allowance allocation scale through as disclosed by our source, the House would be spending over N15.1 billion for the purpose.
The House, according to our source, at an executive session a few weeks back resolved to collapse some allowances in the 2010 budget recurrent expenditure, totaling N53.1 billion as well as the capital votes of over N6.3 billion. These allowances are allegedly slated to be shared amongst members before they embark on the long recess next month.
The source said: â€œThey informed the Speaker that since 2010 is seen as an election year, they must be empowered to face their contenders, through that means. The man was going to be removed if he had rejected the move and they were not joking about it.â€
But, the Chairman House Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Ayoade Ademola Adeseun, PDP, Oyo, when contacted by Vanguard over the allegation, said it was a lie.
He said: â€œThose who are giving you that information are lying, just to cause disaffection for the House. The House would not do such a thing, because we know the implication.â€
The action, if true, contravenes section 84 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that only the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMFAC, had power to review the remuneration of political office holders and elected officials.
The last remuneration determined by the RMAFC for the National Assembly as quarterly salaries in 2007/8 was N11million and N9million, for the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively.
But both chambersâ€™ quarterly pay had progressed at last count to about N43million for each senator and N27million for each member of the House.
Though the jumbo pay package was said to have been approved for members of the Green Chamber, the Senate was still grappling with the salivating prospect of having theirs upped from about N43million to a whopping N100million.
The Senate President, David Mark is also said to be facing â€œseriousâ€ pressure from his colleagues to arbitrarily increase their take home pay to N100million per quarter.
The quarterly allocation to each member of the House of Representatives has steadily risen from about N27 million in the last three years while those of senators have remained in the neighborhood of between N35 million to N45 million within the same period.Â Vanguard learnt that this might provide a big fodder for members of the Nigerian First Forum, NFF, who still want Bankole sacked as Speaker, for what they maintain was his â€˜overbearingâ€™ ways.