Ex-commissioner, don kick against pay rise for political office holders

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By Douglas Okoro

Abakaliki – Dr Paul Okorie, former Commissioner for Environment in Ebonyi, Nigerians will accept any review that will lead to increase in monthly salaries and emoluments of political office holders.

Okorie who also was a former Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport stated this in an interview News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abakaliki.

He said that any upward review of remuneration of elected and appointed officers would further deepen already widening gap between them and rest of Nigerians.

Okorie described proposal as ‘unpopular’ and called on Federal Government to jettison idea, stressing that Nigerians would strongly oppose any upward review of earnings of political office holders.

He said: “If the Revenue Mobillisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) wants to review the salaries and emoluments of political office holders, let them review it downward.

“Look at what our politicians are currently receiving as their take home salaries; it is too bogus and the payment does reflect the country’s current economic reality.

“Nigerians won’t accept any review that will put money in the hands of their elected and appointed representatives, while civil servants and the rest of the wallow in abject penury.

“If you look around the world, Nigeria ranks among the highest in the world’s list of highest paid political office holders including senators and .

“I have come across a document that tried to compare emoluments of the members across the world and our own is the highest.

“It is because of this bogus to politicians that people are compelled to engage in a do-or-die approach including for contest of political power.

“Downward review will reduce cost of governance, make political office less attractive and service-driven as well as discourage do-or-die syndrome that has characterised struggle for political power in Nigeria.’’

Also, Prof. Eugene Nweke, the Dean, Faculty of Management and Sciences, Ebonyi State University (EBSU), said any upward review of salaries of political office holders would suggest that government is insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.

He advised the Federal Government to reduce salaries and allowances of political office holders as part of strategies to reduce cost of governance and make political competition less attractive.

“Any upward review of salaries of political office holders will be antithetical to the development and security of Nigerian citizens given the current poverty situation we find ourselves today.

“Instead of increasing, the wealth should be channelled into addressing some issues that are aggravating poverty and that should be the appropriate thing to do,” Nweke said.

The RMAFC announced recently that it had commenced the procedure for reviewing the salaries and emoluments of political officeholders.

It said that the review would reflect current realities.