SERAP berates Buhari over comment on NASS being ‘highly overpaid’

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has faulted the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari to the effect that “it is wrong for Nigerians to perceive the National Assembly as being “highly overpaid” for doing little.”

SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare stated: “Buhari’s statement directly contradicts his own Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, which has repeatedly stated that members of Nigeria’s National Assembly are grossly overpaid. According to Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), a Nigerian senator earns at least N15m monthly while a member of House of Representatives earns N13.5m monthly.”

“If President Buhari wants to find out the truth about the salaries and allowances of our lawmakers, he should put pressure on them to immediately publish what they earn—salaries and allowances—publish their monthly take-home pay.”

“If President Buhari wants to improve the public perception of the National Assembly, he should publicly support efforts to cut the cost of governance and not encourage members of the National Assembly to continue to receive jumbo pay at the expense of millions of Nigerians with no access to basic public services like clean water, healthcare, and quality education.”

“SERAP has evidence to suggest that members of the National Assembly are among the world highest paid lawmakers. According to the Economist, at current exchange rates, Nigerian lawmakers would earn around $160,000 more than British MPs who make around $105,000.”

“The ‘sky will not fall’ if President Buhari asks the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami SAN to take immediate legal action to ensure publication of details of salaries and allowances of an individual lawmaker.”

“SERAP believes that releasing the information on salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly would encourage a nuanced, evidence-based public debate on what would or should be a fair salary for our lawmakers.”

“It is by making transparency a guiding principle of the presidency and the National Assembly that our lawmakers can regain the support of their constituents and public trust, and contribute to ending the country’s damaging reputation for corruption.”

“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 National Assembly, 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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