By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA– AN international Civil Society Organization, CSO, Actionaid Nigeria, Wednesday, reacted to the statement by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, on senators being paid salary of N13.5 million, claiming each senator’s salary still stands at N1.06 million.
The Project Manager, Actionaid, Newton Otsemaye, accused the RMFAC of having the document that states that senators were being paid N13 million and it is backed up by an Act.
Otsemaye charged senators to review the alleged amount down in the interest of the ordinary Nigerian in order for other critical issues affecting them would be addressed.
He said: “We always argue that governance is becoming too expensive for own democracy, especially in a country where a critical mass of the population living below the poverty line. It is expected for the government to review.
“Of course we have to cut it down and these things are not cast on stones. If there are particular expenses that are cutting down on the economic power of the country is for the government to sit down and review, and that is the collective responsibility and national interest we are talking about.
“It is not just about making laws and shouting that we have the interest of the country in our hearts and if whatever thing you are doing is affecting the public interest you as a responsible and distinguished senator you should say we should review this issue, and if you don’t do that you are projecting your personal interest above national interest of the people you represent.
“They enjoy this package. The Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission, RMFAC, has these document on N13 million for payment, which I came with all the papers during a discussion some years ago on a television station I had with a member of the House of Representatives, who said the law allows them to be paid N13 million and what can they do about it or is it to reject it?
“The consequence is that governance as a micro unit of the nation is earning more than what we spending on other things. If you put N13 million together multiplying the number of senators we have and calculate how many schools, health facilities, roads, water projects and others. These are the cost we are looking at and how it affects the people.”
According to him a benchmark of senators’ salary should be made based on the average a US senator earns, House of parliament member earn in the United Kingdom, and get a figure that is reasonable.
“What we are saying if the basic things of life are all available in Nigeria, people will not think of bumper pay of senators or House of representatives. But you can’t earn such huge amount of money where the people live below the poverty line.
“Laws are meant for people and people are not meant for the law. So you should be able to look at your laws when they are no more favourable to the living, plight and aspiration of the people you govern that is how it works ovber everywhere, but when you begin to talk about ‘Hate Speech Bill’ and not the one that concerns your pocket”, he added.
In his reaction, Country Director, Nation First Foundation, Onianwa Elidad, said he disagrees with the statement from RMAFC on the alleged N13.5 million paid to senators.
“This is unfair and unacceptable to the Nigerians because these senators don’t have the plight of the people they claim to represent as their concern and priority because they are concerned with what they want to take home.
“The N13.5 million cannot be justified by RMFAC that was why they refuted the claim made against the senators. The truth is we cannot continue like this as a nation. We have to call these senators to review this salary and make it reasonable in the interest of Nigerians.
“Now is the time to do it if they are really pained with the situation Nigerians find themselves, whereby they cannot access quality health care services, poor education sector, rising unemployment and other horrible issues negatively affectives them”, Elidad stated.