Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, has lamented the constant harassment of the Senate by Nigerians, adding that the upper legislative chamber cannot disclose its salaries and allowances.
Abdullahi said this during a live programme on Channels Television titled, ‘Politics Today.’
The Senate spokesman also refused to state how much the lawmakers earned in salary and allowances.
When asked to say how much he earned, Abdullahi said it was rude of the presenter to ask him how much each senator earned.
Abdulahi said, “You don’t expect me to come out on national television to say this is what I earn. It is not done. I cannot ask you as a journalist how much you earn. It is not done.
“If anybody is interested in how much we are getting paid, you know where to get the information. The documents are available. If Nigerians won’t believe that, is it what I will say that they will believe?”
The Senate spokesman said the figures released by the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), were false, adding that the Senate’s budget was not even as high as what Sagay released.
He said Sagay was only trying to cause unnecessary tension between the National Assembly and the Presidency.
When confronted with the figures exclusively obtained by Channels Television which put the salary and allowances of each senator at N14m per month and House of Representatives members as N8m per month, Abdullahi said he could not confirm or deny the figures.
Abdullahi said the cost of democracy was not as high as the cost of not having democracy and Nigerians should look on the bright side.
He added, “This issue has become a recurring decimal. In the last two years people have been discussing this matter and I always ask myself, what do people really want to believe? I think if this subject matter has been discussed for two years and we are still looking at issues wrongly, then I think there is something wrong with us.
“The institutions that are responsible for providing this information are there. A law was promulgated on Top Salary Scale also known as TOPSA and it is based on this scale that everyone who holds one political office or the other gets paid.
“I want to also submit that I presume Prof. Sagay would have been paid based on the provision of this scale. For us in the National Assembly, the question needs to be asked ‘what is the cost of having democracy and what is the cost of not having democracy?’”
Sagay (SAN), had said last week that a Nigerian senator earns N29m per month.
“From the information I have gathered, a Nigerian senator earns about N29m a month and over N3bn a year,” the professor said.
He added, “Basic salary N2,484,245.50; hardship allowance, 1,242, 122.70; constituency allowance N4, 968, 509.00; furniture allowance N7, 452, 736.50; newspaper allowance N1, 242, 122.70.
“Wardrobe allowance N621,061.37; recess allowance N248, 424.55; accommodation 4,968,509.00; utilities N828,081.83; domestic staff N1,863,184.12; entertainment N828,081.83; personal assistant N621,061.37; vehicle maintenance allowance N1,863,184.12; leave allowance N248,424.55; severance gratuity N7, 425,736.50; and motor vehicle allowance N9, 936,982.00.”