By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – A federal lawmaker and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who doesn’t want his name mentioned has revealed how much each Senator was paid by the Clerk-to-the National Assembly as ‘enjoyment allowance’ which was leaked by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabío on Monday night before lawmakers proceeded on their long annual vacation.
The unexpected announcement by the Senate President caused stir in the upper legislative chamber before he withdrew the statement which has already been captured by cameras and journalists covering proceedings of the Senate.
Since Monday’s revelation of “enjoyment allowance” for lawmakers in the upper legislative Chambers of the 10th National Assembly, reactions have trailed the development with some observers of the happenings around the nation condemning the largesse in the face of hardships hitting Nigerians due to fuel subsidy removal.
The Senator from the Northern part of the country revealed that each Senator was paid N35 million, while each principal officer received N50 million.
He said: “I am telling you this in confidence that each Senator received N35million while principal officers got N50million each.
“For the House of Representatives, each member got N30 million while their principal officers received N45 million each.
According to him, he rejected his own largesse saying: “Allah will not forgive me if I collect such an amount for vacation enjoyment while my constituents are suffering hardships. I will spend my vacation with my constituents in the village. I am not travelling to any other place so I don’t need the money.’”
The revelation was however contrary to Senator Jimoh Ibrahim representing Ondo South Senatorial District who earlier claimed that each Senators got N3 million in a build up of reactions trailing the largesse.
The source challenged Senator Ibrahim or whoever dare to fault this revelation to publish his bank account showing how much the Lawmaker was paid as holiday enjoyment allowance.
Reacting through a statement which was obtained on Thursday, the ex-Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Timi Frank has demanded for refunds of enjoyment allowance paid to Senators and House of Representatives members which described as illegal.
He insisted that the payment of “enjoyment” and “vacation” allowances were insensitive to the plight of Nigerians and said, they should refund the money to the coffers of the Federal Government, noting that the primary role of the Legislature is to make laws for the order, security and good governance of the country and not to plunder the till.
He wondered why the lawmakers have not deem it necessary to review the nation’s minimum wage which will benefit the masses in the face of skyrocketing inflation but rather have resorted to helping themselves with funds from taxpayers’ money to catch vacation cruise.
He described the attitude of members of the 10th National Assembly as the worst ever to happen to the country saying they appear to be far removed from the harsh economic realities inflicting excruciating pains on the average Nigerian who elected them into office.
Akpabio had on Monday night told Senators that the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Magaji Tambawal, had sent a “token” (money) into their individual bank accounts to “enjoy” their annual “vacation.”
Frank said: “I have been reliably informed that what Akpabio termed token is actually in millions of Naira which belongs to taxpayers.
“According to a Senator from the Northwest geopolitical zone who confided in me, ‘each Senator received N35million while principal officers got N50million each.’
“He equally told me that each House of Representatives member got N30million while their principal officers received N45million each.
“The Senator said he has rejected his own largesse saying: ‘Allah will not forgive me if I collect such an amount for vacation enjoyment while my constituents are suffering hardships. I will spend my vacation with my constituents in the village. I am not traveling to any other place so I don’t need the money.’
“I know Akpabio and his cohorts will rush to deny this but let them do so with evidence by publishing their bank statements for Nigerians to verify for the sake of transparency. I also dare the Clerk to the National Assembly, Magaji Tambawal, to publish the vouchers with which he paid these slush funds into the accounts of legislators.”
Frank who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, however flayed Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (Ondo South) for claiming he only received N2million for vacation enjoyment even as he challenged him to publish his bank statement for Nigerians to confirm whether he told the truth or not.
He reiterated his call on President Bola Tinubu to prevail on the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio to resign his position for illegally and boldly distributing the nation’s commonwealth to legislators on national television and for painting the legislature as the most corrupt arm of government in the country.
He equally called on Nigerians to rise up and demand Akpabio’s resignation should the President or Akpabio’s colleagues fail to rise up to the occasion.
He lamented that while the Federal Government has been complaining of lean financial resources and begging Nigerians to be “patient” and “wait” for things to improve, Akpabio could afford to dole out money for enjoyment without any thought about workers who have been crying that their minimum wage should be increased.
“They cannot pay common living wage to Nigerian workers but Akpabio’s Freudian slip is a wake up call for Nigerians to urgently mobilize and take back their country, if the Nigeria Labour Congress fails to take action to protect and defend now impoverished Nigerian workers.
He called on the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other affiliate unions to rise up and genuinely fight for a living wage for Nigerian workers.
“If Akpabio can fight for senators and Members of the House of Representatives to get so much for enjoyment, we expect the organized labour leadership to fight for improved salaries, wages and welfare packages for Nigerian workers devoid of the types of compromise associated with past workers agitations,” he said.