Lawmakers’ salaries: What we discussed with Saraki – SERAP

Bukola Saraki [Photo: Nigerian Pilot]
Bukola Saraki [Photo: Nigerian Pilot]

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has confirmed that its representatives yesterday met with the Senate President Bukola Saraki to discuss issues relating to details of annual salaries and allowances of lawmakers.

In a statement on Friday by Timothy Adewale, SERAP deputy director, the organisation said that, “While we appreciate the expressed commitment by Saraki to transparency and accountability of the National Assembly, and the rare opportunity to dialogue with him, we remain deeply concerned that the leadership of the Senate has unfortunately not satisfactorily addressed the damaging allegations by Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), that a Nigerian Senator gets N29 million in monthly pay, and over N3 billion a year.”

According to the organisation, “There is an apparent discrepancy in some areas between what Saraki said at the meeting and what the Senate is doing in practice to improve transparency of its operations and accountability of members. For example, the Senate President’s response to Sagay’s allegations was simply to refer SERAP to the National Assembly budget for 2017, which is available on its website. However, a careful study of the document shows that it contains only some general information and not specific details that respond directly to allegations raised by Sagay.”

The statement read in part: “The meeting with Saraki raises more questions than it answers. The Senate budget on its website is incomplete. The absence of specific details on salaries and allowances of each senator not only makes analysis difficult, it also points to underlying weaknesses in monitoring and transparency mechanisms.”

“Without including some level of details, Nigerians may see the published National Assembly budget as nothing more than window-dressing. SERAP hopes that the leadership of the Senate doesn’t want this to be the case—and we certainly see no reason why it should be the case. As we have noted, improved transparency on the exact salaries and allowances of senators and indeed members of the House of Representatives is in the interests of all.

“In SERAP’s view, rather than referring us to the seemingly incomplete National Assembly budget, the Senate President should have provided a line-by-line response to Sagay’s allegations. It is important that the leadership of the Senate provides additional information that is lacking from the published budget if it is ever going to satisfactorily clear the air on the issues.”

“Continuing failure and/or refusal to provide a line-by-line response to Sagay’s allegations is counter-productive. Although the issues of transparency in the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly may seem like sensitive issues, they are exactly the kind of issues the Senate and House Representatives need to urgently address and clarify if Nigerians are ever to trust their lawmakers.”

“As the 2017 National Assembly budget does not appear to record all allowances received by senators, it’s in the best interest of the Senate to now publish a line-by-line response to Sagay’s allegations rather than simply providing a blanket denial. If the Senate is disputing Sagay’s figures on the salaries and allowances of its members it should at least provide what it considers to be the current amounts, including on ‘hardship allowance’. One way the Senate can do this is by moving swiftly to publish details of senators’ payslips and other relevant documents on the salaries and allowances of members for Nigerians to compare and judge.”‎

“In addition, we agree with the Senate President that there are corruption issues within the executive that need to be fully and effectively addressed. But the reality of corruption in the executive branch of government doesn’t mean that allegations of corruption in the National Assembly especially as they relate to budget padding and constituency projects, should be minimised or ignored. The leadership of the Senate should have provided examples of how the Senate is preventing corruption in the budget process and initiatives like constituency projects rather than shifting the blame as to why corruption is so pervasive in the implementation of such projects.”

“Further, the Senate President’s call on Nigerians to report to the Senate allegations of corruption that directly affect them or which they witness, is warmly welcomed. We hope the Senate will keep to its promise on this, and that reports of corruption cases that Nigerians bring to it will be objectively, fairly and effectively addressed and that any such process is completely transparent. However, citizens may not have the trust and confidence to embrace the Senate Anti-Corruption Reporting Mechanism until the leadership satisfactorily addresses the lingering doubts on the exact salaries and allowances of its members.”

“The National Assembly is in a uniquely strong position to act as a catalyst in the fight against corruption. But the rhetoric of the leadership of the Senate on transparency and accountability needs to be matched by reality.”

It would be recalled that Mr Bamikole Omishore, the Special Adviser to Saraki on New Media, had said on Sunday in Abuja that he would contact SERAP and other CSOs for a meeting to give more details on the yearly earnings of senators. Omishore said, “The attention of the office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to demand for more details regarding the earnings of senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having released the breakdown of the National Assembly budget, the most comprehensive in the history of Nigerian Senate, it seems the release of pay slips is yet to clarify earnings of Nigerian senators.

“The Senate President has agreed to a roundtable with SERAP and other CSOs to enlighten them and answer genuine questions regarding the matter,” Mr. Omishore also said.

Earlier, Mr. Sagay that had alleged that a Nigerian Senator gets N29 million in monthly pay. The details of the salaries and allowances as provided by Mr. Sagay are as follows: 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. Others are: 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.

Mr. Sagay’s allegations prompted SERAP to write Saraki, stating that, “The ‘sky will not fall’ if details of a Nigerian Senator’s salaries and allowances are published on a dedicated website. SERAP believes that releasing the information on salaries and allowances of members of the Senate would encourage a nuanced, evidence-based public debate on what would or should be a fair salary for a member of the Senate.”

The organisation said that, “It is by making transparency a guiding principle of the National Assembly that the Senate can regainthe support of their constituents and public trust, and contribute to ending the country’s damaging reputation for corruption.”

SERAP’s statement read in part: “Transparency is a fundamental attribute of democracy, a norm of human rights, a tool to promote political and economic prosperity and to curb corruption. For the Senate, practising transparency should start with the leadership being open to Nigerians on the salaries and allowances of members.”

“SERAP strongly believes that it is by knowing exactly how much their lawmakers earn as salaries and allowances that members of the National Assembly can remain accountable to Nigerians and our citizens can be assured that neither fraud nor government waste is concealed.”


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  • Watch man

    SERAP, were you expecting the Lootocrat General (Saraki) to open up? His response was expected. If the FOIB is actually working, by now the loot of the NASS members would have been officially published. These are a bunch selfish, greedy and covetous brigands who selected and sent themselves to NASS. The only thing they have to offer to Nigerians are crumbs that fell from their exalted golden tables. The onus is on Nigeria to demand the scrapping of senate and then restructure HOR.

  • God dey

    Saraki, Saraki, Saraki! How many times did I call you? You missed a golden opportunity big time! If you had told SERAP the whole truth about this salaries and allowances wahala, you would have used their reputation to restore yours and that of your members. What a bunch of legislooters and a joke of a wasted generation

    • okpada

      Seven times

  • Angry Niaja

    Call am, call am, thief, thief, thief, Sarathieving bunch of no good dishonourables. The plan was to have the meeting with SERAP and try and hoodwink them to try and divert attention, otherwise why call for a meeting, when all you did was refer them to the Senate website. Long and short of it, Nigerians should rise up with one voice, we need to chase these vagabonds out, We DO NOT need a Senate, we MUST do this and NOW

    • God dey

      God bless you for this beautiful contribution. Why they’re doing this against us and we’re allowing them get away with it is simply beyond me.

  • www.electionoffenders.ng

    Corruption sustains the NASS. .

  • thisnigeria

    And Buhari expects these people to help in the restructuring of this country. I bet if at all they would rather restructure ALL revenues of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to their personal pockets…..Lobatan!

  • persona

    SERAP: on behalf of Nigerians I say thanks. It was an exercise in futility and I reckon you knew BUT Saraki missed the window and its now gone.
    Saraki was raised never to take anything openly but from behind the scene and using crooked means. SGBN, was stolen dry, Ikoyi properties were bought anticipatorily, Senate Presidency: Cornered by deceit and diversion. He thinks Nigerians are fools and tries to run rings around us. Its such a shame that when he is now cornered, he deflect to the presidency that there is corruption there when everyone knows that NASS is a den of thieves who have promised to die looting. The issue is this: Sagay can present his own payslip, can Saraki do likewise? Clearly, the things that bind the criminal enterprise called the NASS is the unison in deprivation of the average Nigerian. This should not be the end, Sagay should build on this, fire these guys, sustain it till 2019 and Nigerians should demand that, if you don’t produce your payslip, no return to the NASS even as we know that they will never promulgate a law to wipe out the corrupt house. We must hold them to account and above all, Saraki….this is the albatross to that coveted position you dream about…IT SHALL NEVER COME TO PASS.

    • God dey

      I echo your comments and sentiments. The Senate missed the opportunity big time! What a bunch of legislooters and a joke of a wasted generation

    • Gary

      Why put the onus on Saraki alone? Don’t you have a Rep and Senator representing you in NASS? Have you ever met or contacted them as a constituent to ask how much they are paid; as is your right?

      You people would leave your own rascals alone and focus on others who don’t represent you. Most of the Saraki-haters online are not his constituents to whom he’s primarily accountable.
      If you live in Lagos, ask the likes of Remi Tinubu and Gbenga Ashafa, Femi Gbajabiamila & Co to show you their payslips. Same applies to the residents of Kogi Central and Dino Melaye or Ben Murray-Bruce in Bayelsa, etc.

      Hold your own legislators to account instead of becoming useful idiots on every issue as an excuse to go after Saraki for snagging the Senate Presidency.
      We are less than 18 months away from the next elections and you folks are still gunning for Saraki. Morons.

      • aisha ani

        There is also a possibility that the other members of the national assembly do not want the “Jubril treatment”, if they say too much.

        • Gary

          We also have a Freedom of Information Law on the statutes. Why can’t any citizen or CSO submit a request to the Clerk of the National Assembly to disclose the emoluments of our legislators? So as to clear the air on the figures alleged by Professor Sagay?
          Anyway, I expect Senator Saraki to do the needful on this issue. It is a joke to say we are practicing democracy in a country where the salary package of our National Assembly is a closely guarded secret.
          That only obtains in a Banana Republic or dictatorship.

      • persona

        The issue here is, as valid as your points are, I had addressed them. How exactly do you know that Saraki is not representing my constituency?
        Clearly, that is where you got it wrong because I raised an advise here that everyone should demand a show of payslip else, they will not be re-elected. That is what I will do in the next 18 months. Gary, you are bright and name calling should not be your thing as it makes your contribution worthless even if its well packed. Saraki is the subject here because he had the meeting and I addressed that he lost a great chance to set thing straight. Clearly, you think I am after him for being in the public, the issue is, he has a long trail of injuries on the downtrodden and this is another. So, please next time, stop making assumptions when you could simply have passed it off as a general advice.

        • Gary

          Are you in Saraki’s Senatorial district for him to become the subject of your ire? Did you raise the same ruckus when David Mark was Senate President and instituted the opaque salary packages of the National Assembly?
          Or Saraki is worse than the thuggish David Mark, who spent his entire Army career as a coup plotter, involved in annulling June 12 and retired as one of the richest men in Nigeria only to represent the impoverished people of Benue State as Senator via the Army Arrangement of setting up the PDP under Obasanjo to takeover from General Abdulsalam in 1999.
          You target just one man for the many ills that predate his period in office. Saraki is only one out of 103 Senators and the boatload of other so-called politicians feeding fat on the country at the expense of the people.
          How often have you questioned the stupendous wealth of the likes of Bola Tinubu and other former Governors after only two terms in office and passing ridiculous pension benefits for themselves? Including getting a house in their home states and another in Abuja? Or you have conveniently forgotten that Tinubu was the trail-blazer in passing such a pension package for himself from the coffers of Lagos State?
          But you would rather make a scapegoat of Saraki who does not represent you while looking away from those who do. And not be honest enough to admit that you have an axe to grind when called out for it.
          Enough of the contrived and selective outrage if we really want to move the gountry forward. Face your own legislators and leave the voters of his Kwara State constituency to determine Bukola Saraki’s fate. If they are happy with him, there’s absolutely nothing you and I can do about it. And he will be returned to the Senate, no matte how much bile folks spew on the Internet.

          • persona

            Gary, you seem to have done exactly the same thing to Mark. My point is simple, it was Saraki that granted SERAP audience and not mark or Tinubu. Clearly, you are defending him and for reasons best know…which I have no issues with but none of the people left of the former or present NASS members called SERAP and tried to hoodwink them. He simply bungled a good window to shut Sagay down and now, any senator who does try to run Saga down will be called out.
            Unlike others, I never cast blames without suggesting a solution. Its up to you to demand your senator’s pay slip or you will tacitly have endorsed that the other senators should like Saraki be given a pass and they should not be questioned. From Tinubu(mr and mrs), Mark, Ashafa and others that you have mentioned, are you aware that you are likewise singling others out? So what is wrong singling Saraki out as the leader of an institution that hoodwinks us that they are transparent and not so? Don’t we blame Buhari for the economic situation in the country or even the issue of the military in SE…or did Buhari drive an armored tank to Kanu’s house? Whatever happened to the term the buck stops on a leader’s desk? If Saraki cant take the glory and the heat, he should step down.

  • Gary

    The emoluments of the National Assembly cannot be a secret from the very people who elected them as their representatives. That alone stands democracy on its head. Legislators, like officials of the other branches of government, are public servants and should he fully accountable to the people who voted them into office.
    We know the emoluments of those in the other arms of government and there’s no reason why that of the National Assembly should remain a secret.
    Senator Saraki and Speaker Dogara, time has come for you to bite the bullet and come clean on what you and your colleagues pay yourselves from the National Treasury. Do not perpetuate the ignoble legacy of obfuscation and opaque governance you inherited from David Mark and his ilk. Please bring dignity and transparency of your education and good breeding to distinguish the current Assembly from its predecessors. Unless you have something to hide and fear an uproar if the people know how much you pay yourselves. Either way, you must do something about it. Before the people take to the streets in uprising.