David Mark, the billionaire senate president

David Mark, the billionaire senate president

The average expenditure of the National Assembly has been N150bn per year over the last four years. Despite gulping a whooping N600bn in that period, this assembly of the bosses has passed only 106 bills. This is shameful to say the very least. And the legislators attempt to make poor Nigerians accept the reduction of expenditure by the House of Representatives and the Senate to N120bn in the 2015 budget is like rubbing salt on an open sore.

In 2013, Professor Itse Sagay drew the attention of Nigerians to the fact that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world. Each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives receives not less than N204m (approx $1.45m) in salaries and allowances annually, while that for the 109 members of the Senate is a minimum of N240m (approx $1.7m), which boils down to N498,630.13 per day! The principal officers of both chambers of course receive even more. This is against $174,000 annually by a Senator in the United States and $64,000 by a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

There is no justification for these mind blowing amounts. Even the remuneration of law makers in the advanced capitalist countries is bad enough. The huge sums that Nigerian legislators rob us of in a country where the national minimum wage is a paltry N18,000 (approx $80) is condemnable. The state gives the impression that the wage bill for “public servants” is not sustainable. But as Sanusi Lamido pointed out when he was Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a quarter of the total recurrent expenditure annually is spent on the National Assembly of 469 persons.

When the current republic started, the Nigeria Labour Congress organised a protest against the stupendous furniture allowances enjoyed by the legislators. But not much came out of that. This is the time for the labour movement to mount sustained struggle against the grandiose take home pay of those who are meant to be our elected servants, when the take home pay of the average worker cannot take her or him home.

The salaries and allowances of an average lawmaker in Nigeria is 116 times the GDP per person. And according to The Economist two years ago, between 2005 and 2013, the “earnings” of the 409 legislators was over N1trillion! In a socialist system, the artificial divide between the executive and the legislature would be dissolved. Working people will be elected from their work places and where they live into the governing bodies from local to national levels and they will earn just what an average worker earns.

We must put an end to this parasitic capitalist system with its bloodsucking officials who claim to “represent us”. This is the time to rise against the outrageous remuneration of law makers and indeed against the exploitative capitalist system the represent.

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