By Funmi Komolafe, Ben Agande & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJAâ€”EVEN before the committee set up by the Federal Government to review the salary of federal civil servants complete its assignment, the Senate, yesterday, approved a 100 per cent salary increase for workers of the National Assembly, to be implemented over eight years.
The increment which followed the submission of the report of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Services will lead to an increase in the wage bill of the National Assembly to N11,040,598,314.
By the proposed pay package, the minimum salary earner in the National Assembly would go home with N32,034.66 per month while a fresh university graduateÂ would earn N104,984.40.
Assistant directors and directors are to earn N359,922.64 and N437,644.58 respectively, while clerks of Senate and Reps would earn N1,153,512.42 per month. As for legislative aides, special assistants on GL.14 are to earn 437,693.68 per month.
President-general of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Esele described the pay raise approved for National Assembly workers as â€œgoodâ€ but warned that failure to extend it to workers in other sectors would be resisted by organized labour.
Comrade Esele told Vanguard, yesterday: â€œIt is our expectation that it will go down to everybody.Â It is our expectation that this will flow from top to bottom. Any attempt not to make it flow will be resisted by organized labour.
â€œWe know that the National Assembly members have also increased their pay though they are denying it.â€
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, General Secretary, Comrade John Odah, said the pay rise granted National Assembly workers was a far cry from what the legislators awarded to themselves.
He said: â€œOur principle is that workers should be paid different wages. The wage increase falls within that context. Though the relativity between the Senators and the House of Representatives salary and their paid staff are outrageously wide and would need much more to breach thisâ€.
Comrade Odah said: â€œGiven what the Senators and the House of Representatives had awarded themselves as pay rise, the Assembly workers’ wage increase is belated and not commensurate with what they have awarded themselves.â€
The implementation of the new salary structure was, however, subject to harmonization of the Senate and the House of Representatives versions by a committee to be selected by the two houses.
The report of the committee which was presented by Senator Mohammed Ahmad showed an increase of N1.9 billion above the total current payroll cost of N2.7 billion to bring the total proposed payroll cost to N4.6 billion for National Assembly core staff, while the total cost for the National Assembly Service Commission was expected to rise to N437million, from its current figure of N277Million.
The cost of paying legislative aides to members of the National Assembly when the increment became effective would be N6 billion from the present bill of N3.5billion.
While 50 per cent of the figures were to be implemented as soon as the increase became effective, the balance would be spread over a period of eight years in the following ratio:Â 20 per cent after two years, 15 per cent after four years and 15 per cent after two years respectively.
The report which was first presented to the Senate on Tuesday saw the senators arguing that the National Assembly was an independent arm of government whose legislative staff were peculiar by dint of their nature of work.
Senators who spoke on the new salary structure argued that staff of the National Assembly worked extra hours than their contemporaries in the public service and deserved special encouragement.