The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) and Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) have demanded that Speaker Yakubu Dogara explain the nearly N250,000 excess in his annual constituency allowance to Nigerians.
In separate statements to PREMIUM TIMES, the civic groups said Nigerians stand to lose billions through similar channels if they ignore the amount as inconsequential.
“Although some may dismiss the amount as being too little to warrant scrutiny, CHRICED insists that the channel through which 247,711.47 of public monies disappears, is the same channel through which billions will vanish, if not closed,” Ibrahim Zikirullahi, CHRICED director, said.
Lanre Suraj, Chairman of CSNAC, said the Speaker should not only explain the anomalies observed in his pay, but also disclose all his allowances in categorical format.
“The Speaker should also show us the money he received under each category of his allowances,” Mr. Suraj said.
The call came days after PREMIUM TIMES examined the content of a payslip distributed by Mr. Dogara, which showed he earned excess in constituency allowance, even though the document largely complied with the remuneration guidelines as set by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
As his constituency allowance, Mr. Dogara claimed N175, 461.96, giving him N2, 105, 543. 52 per annum.
However, the RMAFC stipulated that Mr. Dogara should draw 75 per cent of his annual basic salary as constituency allowance, which is about N1, 857, 832.5.
This indicates that the speaker may have earned N247, 711.47 more than what RMAFC recommended as his constituency allowance.
The RMAFC did not say if the speaker was entitled to earn more than other lawmakers. The regulator only imposed 125 per cent and 75 per cent of annual basic salary as constituency allowances for senators and representatives, respectively.
CHRICED further stated that the discrepancy was a result of the secrecy with which the National Assembly budget is handled.
“As we await that explanation, we make bold to assert that the opaque and secretive accounting culture in the National Assembly, which has been the basis for bogus and questionable allowances, is also responsible for the many other illegal payments, which are usually shrouded in secrecy.
“Legislators have continued to shield their unjust earnings from public view by the blatant refusal to open up their budget for public access. CHRICED, therefore, calls on citizens and civic groups, to sustain the pressure until the veil of secrecy foisted on how public funds are being expended by supposed representatives of the people, is entirely removed,” it said.
Nigerian lawmakers are known to draw excessive payments from the federal coffers, even when they could not justify them.
For instance, a recent Auditor General Report found that a man who was elected senator 10 months to the expiration of the Seventh Assembly drew salaries for a full four-year tenure.
CHRICED urged Nigerians to be vigilant about the activities of their elected officials at all time.
“While the push for transparency and accountability leading to the recent disclosures is laudable, we urge citizens to move beyond the euphoria of the moment by thoroughly scrutinising details of what has been put in the public domain by the concerned officials,” it said.
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