Twelve months after the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission pledged to give the nation reviewed salaries and allowances for political office holders, lawmakers and key government officials still cart home about N9.18bn annually in salaries and allowances.
Investigation show that while RMAFC had completed work on the review of the emoluments of political office holders about November 2015, the new emoluments have not seen the light of the day due to the politics involved in the process.
As a result, key political office holders still earn the full packages they earned before the decision to reduce the earnings of political and judicial office holders.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had announced their decision to take only 50 per cent of the salary and allowances approved for them, meaning that they take home N7,029,410 and N6,063,145 respectively.
However, most of the allowances and entitlements of the President and Vice-President are not monetised but fully provided by the state.
Apart from salary, the regular allowances that are monetised for the President are only hardship allowance, N1,757,350.50 per annum; and consistency allowance, N8,786,762.50 per annum.
For the Vice-President, the hardship allowance is N1,515,786.25 per annum, while the consistency allowance is N7, 578,931.25 per annum.
The irregular allowances for the President are the severance allowance – 300 per cent of the annual salary or N10,544,115 – and leave allowance – 10 per cent of the annual salary or N351,470.50.
The irregular allowances of the Vice-President are the severance allowance – 300 per cent of the annual salary or N9, 094,717.50 – and leave allowance – 10 per cent of the annual salary or N303,157.25.
Other allowances that the President and the Vice-President are supposed to enjoy which are not provided in monetary terms include motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance, special assistants, and personal assistants.
Others are domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, security and newspapers/periodical allowances.
These irregular allowances include accommodation, furniture, duty tour, estacode, medical, and severance/gratuity.
For a senator, the salary and allowances add up to N20,669,280 per annum. Those of a member of the House of Representatives add up to N17,271,347.75.
There are 109 senators and 360 representatives. With the exception of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy whose allowances are provided by the state, lawmakers get a total of N8,397,965,454.5.
For a minister, the salary and allowances add up to N14,705,164 while those of presidential aide add up to N14,085,843.75. The Head of Service and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation are on the same salaries and allowances.
There are 36 ministers and 15 presidential aides. Their annual emoluments add up to N770,083,888.25.
RMAFC had in June 2015 set in motion the process for the downward review of the existing salaries and allowances of political, public and judicial office holders when it set up a committee chaired by Mr. Abdullahi Inde.
At the inauguration, returning Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Elias Mbam, had urged the committee to be conscious of the prevailing economic situation and the need to reduce cost of governance so as to free more funds for development.
The current remuneration of public office holders is guided by the Remuneration Act of 2008. A review became imperative following dwindling government revenues occasioned by falling prices in the international oil market.
However, investigation showed that when Mbam left the commission following the completion of his first tenure in November 2015, the acting Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Umar Gana, made a number of attempts to present the new packages to President Buhari but failed.
“The acting chairman could not get the green light from the Villa to present the remuneration package to the President,” an authoritative source told our correspondent.
“That is why the new salary structure has been stalled. The law requires that the President must get the recommendation from RMAFC who would table it before the Federal Executive Council for ratification. Then, it is presented to the National Assembly.”
The current allowances of lawmakers are in categories. Some are tagged regular allowances while others are tagged irregular allowances.
Regular allowances are those that are paid on monthly basis along with the monthly salaries while irregular allowances are paid at other frequencies ranging from annual to once in four years.
There are also other allowances not included in this calculation that are paid not at any fixed periods but as many times as they occur in the year.
The allowances are calculated as percentages of the annual salaries. While some are higher than the annual salaries; others are lower.
Basically, both senators and Reps are paid the same percentages of their salaries as allowances except in constituency allowance where senators are paid 250 per cent while Reps are 100 per cent.
Vehicle maintenance and fuelling alliance is 75 per cent; domestic staff, 75 per cent; entertainment, 30 per cent; utilities, 30 per cent; wardrobe, 25 per cent; newspapers, 15 per cent; house maintenance, five per cent; and personal assistants, 25 per cent.
The irregular allowances include housing allowance, 200 per cent of their annual salaries; furniture allowance, 300 per cent; recess allowance, 10 per cent and severance allowance, 300 per cent.
Housing allowance is paid once a year. Furniture allowance is paid once in four years and recess allowance is paid when the lawmakers are on recess and they go on recess four times in a year. Severance allowance is at the end of the four-year tenure.
There are other allowances that the lawmakers are not paid directly but provided and paid for by the government. These are special assistants, security and legislative aides. What this means is that those engaged in these capacities are paid directly by the government as the allowances cannot be claimed by political office holders. These allowances apply to senators and Reps.
Medical expenses are also borne by the government when they have need for the services.
The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance, estacode (when they travel).For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37, 000 per night; the estacode is $950 per night.
For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35, 000 per night; while estacode is $900 per night.
Ministers and presidential aides also enjoy similar allowances.
Experts, however, are not worried by the official earnings of political office holders but by the unofficial ones. Lawmakers, for instance, are said to get some quarterly payment.