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Buhari, VP, Ministers, Lawmakers, Others Earn N9.18bn Yearly

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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.

The annualised salary and allowances of the president is N14,058,820, while that of the vice-president is N12,126,290.

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.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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Nigeria Launches New National ID Card to Enhance Access to Social and Financial Services

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the launch of a National Identity Card with integrated payment and social service functionalities.

This initiative, spearheaded by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), aims to provide Nigerians with a single, multifunctional card that combines identification, payment, and access to various government and private sector services.

The new National ID card backed by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007 is poised to become the country’s default identity card, serving as a tangible proof of identity for citizens and legal residents alike.

With features aligned with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, including a Machine-readable Zone (MRZ) and biometric authentication capabilities, the card offers robust security and verification mechanisms.

One of the most significant aspects of the new ID card is its payment functionality. Cardholders will have the ability to link their cards to bank accounts, enabling them to conduct debit and prepaid transactions seamlessly.

This feature is expected to enhance financial inclusion efforts, particularly for the unbanked and underbanked populations in Nigeria.

Also, the card will grant holders access to a wide range of government interventions programs, including travel, health insurance, microloans, agriculture initiatives, food subsidies, transport benefits, and energy subsidies.

By consolidating these services onto a single platform, the government aims to streamline administrative processes and improve service delivery efficiency.

To ensure widespread accessibility, the NIMC has outlined various channels for obtaining the new ID card, including online applications, commercial banks, participating agencies, and NIMC offices nationwide.

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New York City Hit by 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake

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New York City, famously known as the “city that never sleeps” was hit by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

The tremors reverberated through the towering skyscrapers and bustling suburbs as it sent shockwaves across the densely populated metropolitan area and left residents feeling shaken.

The earthquake, with its epicenter approximately 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia, caught many off guard.

Reports indicate that over 42 million people across the Northeast region may have felt the midmorning quake with reports coming in from as far as Baltimore to Boston and beyond.

The impact of the earthquake was not confined to mere tremors; it resulted in significant damage to several multifamily homes in Newark, New Jersey, displacing nearly 30 residents.

Officials immediately sprang into action, conducting checks on bridges and other major infrastructure to assess any potential structural damage.

Flights were diverted or delayed, Amtrak slowed trains throughout the busy Northeast Corridor, and a Philadelphia-area commuter rail line suspended service as a precautionary measure.

The experience was unsettling for many New Yorkers, with some likening it to the sensation of an explosion or construction accident.

Shawn Clark, an attorney working on the 26th floor of a midtown Manhattan office, described it as “pretty weird and scary,” echoing the sentiments of many who felt the earth move beneath them.

Aftershocks were reported hours later in a central New Jersey township, causing additional concern and producing reports of damage and items falling off shelves, according to Hunterdon County Public Safety Director Brayden Fahey.

The disruption caused by the earthquake extended beyond immediate safety concerns. Cellphone circuits were overloaded as people tried to reach loved ones, and phones blared with earthquake-related notifications during the New York Philharmonic’s morning performance, adding an unexpected twist to the day’s events.

Even as the seismic event rattled New York City, residents and officials alike drew comparisons to past earthquakes, particularly the memorable tremor of August 23, 2011. Registering a magnitude of 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II, leaving lasting impressions on those who experienced it.

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