By OKON OKON
ABUJA- Some Nigerians have expressed concern over the huge salaries and emoluments of Nigerian political officeholders in the face of harsh economic situation in the country.
The Nigerians, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Tuesday in Abuja, called for downward review of their salaries.
According to them, such money can be channeled to other sectors in the country to boost the economy.
Recently, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, revealed the salaries and emoluments of members of the National Assembly to the public, saying the monthly salary of a Senator is N1.5 million, while that of a member of the House of Representatives is N1.3 million.
He said the N13 million thrown into the public space a few years back as the monthly salary of a senator was actually their quarterly office-running allowance.
Also the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, also disclosed that he and his colleagues receive N13.5 million monthly as “running cost”.
Sani said that the running cost did not include a N700, 000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances which they also receive.
“I think what we can say is that the running cost of a senator is N13.5 million every month,” the senator said.
“Though there is no specification on what the funds is meant for; each lawmaker is mandated to provide receipts to back up their expenses.’’
Mrs Comfort Unoh, a civil servant said “it is a sad situation’’ for some Nigerians to go home hungry in a day owing to lack of money to purchase food items, whereas some like lawmakers would be earning huge allowances in a month.
Unoh suggested the reduction in lawmakers’ salaries could be channeled to other sectors.
She said with reduction in their salaries, the government or those in salary and wages office could calculate to know how much a job seeker should earn and use such money to create jobs for the unemployed in the country.
“With the reduction in the salaries of our political officeholders, believe me, it is enough to create vacancies and pay those who would be employed into those vacancies.
“I can’t believe the situation where we are today and yet lawmakers are earning such huge amount of money it is unheard of.”
Unoh said looking at the present economic situation being faced by many in the country, it was reasonable to cut down lawmakers’ salaries and their allowances.
Mr Suleiman Umar, another civil servant, who expressed displeasure over the situation, described it as being insensitive to pay such huge amount without considering the hardships people were going through.
“Come to think of it sir, there are 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, so in terms of payment; how much do you think such money could amount to in a month, let alone in a year?
“A senator in Nigeria earns N240 million per annum in salaries and allowances and a member of the House of Representatives earns N204 million per annum. This is not fair to Nigerians. ”
Mr Gabriel Haruna, a civil servant also decried the situation whereby leaders could not consider the current “economic realities” in the country.
According to Haruna, poor Nigerians are getting poorer and the rich ones are getting richer due to the fact that only few have access to the huge resources in the country.
He corroborated what other said that lawmakers going home with such huge money had adverse effect on employment opportunities for young school leavers roaming the streets of Nigeria, adding that part of the money could also be channelled to pay others.
He, therefore, called on the concerned authority to review the lawmakers’ salaries and emoluments, and channel to other sectors to ease unemployment, in particular to curb hardship among Nigerians.
“In reality, the wealth of this country should have been going round, but it is so unfortunate that it is just in the hands of few like the lawmakers and that is why some Nigerians remain poor.
“Even those of us who are working, there is nothing to show for it because some government workers are being treated better than others in the same civil service system, ” he said.
Haruna, however, used the medium to advise Nigerians to make the right choices as the country was preparing toward the 2023 general elections to put a stop to some of these unpleasant situations in the country.
In her contributions, Mrs Mercy Onu, a business woman said mere mentioning of salaries of the political officeholders in Nigeria was always ‘irritating’ to her hearing.
“Today, there is hunger in the land, today there is no job for Nigerians not because Nigeria is poor like they are saying, but because the wealth of this nation is in the hands of few people.
“The effect is that it creates opportunity for people to be involved in corruption, and there is hunger in the land, yet political officeholders do not care about all these,” she said. (NAN)