A cross section of Nigerians have condemned the planned payment of about N9bn as perks to ministers and lawmakers who will assume office in the government of President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as recently reported by Saturday PUNCH.
The newspaper on May 9, 2015, in an investigative report, said lawmakers to constitute the 8th National Assembly and ministers to be appointed by Buhari would receive N9bn as perks on assumption of office.
The perks include housing, furniture and motor vehicle allowances, among others.
For instance, the housing allowance for the lawmakers is 200 per cent of their annual salaries; furniture is 300 per cent and motor vehicle loan is 400 per cent.
The report, which has been read about 40,000 times on www.punchng.com as of Friday, generated mixed reactions from the public, many of who demanded pay cut for political office holders in the country.
The readers questioned the payment of such allowances at a time the country’s revenue has dipped.
Chika Kema Junior, one of the readers, said, “All these furniture, car, whatever allowances are unnecessary. I still recommend pay as you go allowances for senators and members of the House of Representatives.
“That is, payment should be done based on sitting, and shouldn’t be more than N300, 000 for senators and N200, 000 for members of the House of Representatives.
“Minister for state positions should be scrapped immediately as they are wasteful. Ministers’ salary should not be more than N150, 000 per month. However, they can have leverage in the purchase of houses or cars since they are government servants.”
Another Nigerian, Michael Akinmola, described the allowance package for the lawmakers and ministers as “alarming” and “ridiculous.”
He said, “Are all these lawmakers living in another planet apart from the one we all live? If the answer is no, I see no reason why these salaries and allowances should not be reduced with immediate effect.
“This is one of the causes of corruption in the society. It is also one of the major reasons why politics in Nigeria has become a do or die affairs.”
Incidentally, state civil servants in many states across the country are being owed salaries following the recent fall in oil prices, fuelling the resentment felt by some Nigerians towards the allowances.
The Nigerians said it was unfair for the predominantly poor taxpayers to be funding the lavish lifestyle of political office holders.
A reader, Yetunde, described the current situation in the country as “completely outrageous.”
Her comment read, “Why should we pay for their domestic help, newspapers, entertainment, and all sorts of garbage?
“The current state of Nigerian economy can’t pay for these. I don’t see why vehicle loans should be given to any lawmaker. If they really need a car, they can approach the bank for loan. It is improper that we have to pay for the fuel and maintenance of a car that is considered personal.”
Another Nigerian, Oreagba Afolabi, wrote, “We should do away with these bogus allowances and work out something more reasonable. There should be nothing like constituency allowances.
“Let them get where they will stay (in the Federal Capital Territory). Enough of all this wastage, the common man on the street is suffering.”