A member of the House of Representatives, Simon Karu, has revealed that each member of the House earns N9.3 million monthly.
The lawmaker, who represents Kaltungo/Shongom federal constituency of Gombe State, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at an event to mark Nigeria’s 60th anniversary.
The event was tagged “FixingNigeria at 60- Sustainable and efficient democracy: Issues on accountability and transparency in governance”.
The lawmaker, however, said most of the funds were spent on constituents’ high demands.
Mr. Karu, who was among the guest speakers, said the sum included monthly salaries and the office’s running cost.
“The official salary of a member, House of Representatives which I also receive monthly is N800,0000. I told you I was going to say it, why don’t you wait for me to say it? The office running cost of a member of the House of Representatives is N8.5 million,” he said.
“Those of you who know, know that I said exactly what it is. The problem is what the constituents demand and when you don’t meet (up), they begin to call you names.
“Just before I walked to the stage, I received three emails from my constituents demanding for money and demanding for jobs, when you don’t, it becomes an issue.”
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES to confirm his statement, Mr. Karu affirmed he stated so at the event.
He said “the office running cost is being managed by the management of the National Assembly.”
He said “the funds are released after an evidence of expenditure is provided to the National Assembly management.”
In a dramatic twist, another member of the House at the event, Nicholas Ossai debunked Mr. Karu’s revelation, urging the audience to disregard same.
“I have never received such salary since I came to the National Assembly and I have been in the National Assembly before him,” Mr. Ossai said.
The pay package of public office holders, particularly the salaries and allowances of the National Assembly members, has been an issue of concern among Nigerians.
The minimum wage in the Nigerian public sector is pegged at N30, 000.
But since 2010, the over N150 billion annual allocations to the National Assembly in the budget, which includes the salaries and allowances as well as other perks, have remained a closely guarded secret, and their details have always been hidden from the public.
PREMIUM TIMES had on August 18 published a report indicating that the 360 members of the House of Representatives gulp N6.58 billion from the nation’s treasury in annual salaries and allowances, while the 109 senators cost the nation N2.14 billion in similar emoluments.
Cumulatively, the country pays out a hefty N8.72 billion every year in salaries and allowances to lawmakers in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
However, the amount the senators and members of the House of Representatives remit as tax appears insignificant as their income tax is calculated as a function of their basic salaries alone.
Yet the allowances, which are non-taxed are about 870 per cent (Senators) and 820 per cent (Reps) of their basic salaries.
A former Senator, Shehu Sani, had during the 8th Assembly revealed that himself and his colleagues received N13.5 million “running cost” allowance monthly, aside their salary.
In an interview with TheNews, the senator said that the running cost “does not include a N700,000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances which they also receive” and other perks.
He said there is no specification on what the funds were meant for. “Each lawmaker is mandated to provide receipts to back up their expenses,” the vocal lawmaker said.