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.
FG Resumes Conditional Cash Transfer Programme Across Six Local Govt. In Kebbi
The Federal Government has resumed the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme in Kebbi State, commencing with a payment of N9.24bn to 76,107 CCT beneficiaries.
The National Coordinator of the programme, Hajiya Halima Shehu, made the announcement during a state visit to Governor Atiku Bagudu in Birnin Kebbi.
“As at now, payment to CCT beneficiaries is ongoing in the state. A total number of 76,107 beneficiaries across six local government areas of Bagudu, Danko, Wasagu, Dandi, Jega, and Shanga, will be receiving the payment. The beneficiaries will be receiving 26 months of payment circles, starting from January to February 2020.
“The payment will be in two batches of those 60,000 beneficiaries for four payment cycles, using the virtual account. The second batch has 70,107 beneficiaries for nine payment cycles through the debit cards. The total amount for the two batches in the state, according to Shehu, was over N9.24 billion.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria, in partnership with the World Bank in 2016, designed and developed a safety net programme for Nigeria under the platform of National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP).
“One of the components of NASSP is the national conditional cash transfer office responsible for implementing the household uplifting- conditional cash transfer to the poor and the vulnerable households across the country,” she said.
Shehu commended the governor for providing her an audience and the chance to update him on the commencement of payments and the state’s successful implementation of the program.
Responding, Gov. Bagudu, represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Samaila Yombe-Dabai, thanked the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, for actualising the programme in the state.
“I assure you that the state government will do all it takes to support the success of the programme in the state.
“We are looking forward to getting more local governments to be involved in the cash transfer programme,” Bagudu said.
Ukraine/Russian War: Twitter Heightens Fight Against Misinformation
In the wake of the Russia-Ukarine crisis, Twitter has stepped up its effort to put an end to misleading tweets from official accounts about the war.
Investors King gathered that Twitter has already limited content from more than 300 Russian government accounts, including President Putin. The new change will be effected under the company’s new “crisis” policies.
Twitter will also prioritise labelling false posts from accounts with wide reach, like state media or official government accounts, while preserving them for “accountability” reasons.
Twitter users will now be required to click through the warning notice to view the post and Twitter will disable the ability to like, retweet or share the content. The company said it would also change its search and explore features to avoid amplifying false tweets.
Twitter’s head of security and safety, Yoel Roth, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes saying “Today, we’re introducing our crisis misinformation policy – a global policy that will guide our efforts to elevate credible, authoritative information, and will help to ensure viral misinformation isn’t amplified or recommended by us during crises. In times of crisis, misleading information can undermine public trust and cause further harm to already vulnerable communities.
“Alongside our existing work to make reliable information more accessible during crisis events, this new approach will help to slow the spread by us of the most visible, misleading content, particularly that which could lead to severe harms.
“While this first iteration is focused on international armed conflict, starting with the war in Ukraine, we plan to update and expand the policy to include additional forms of crisis,” Twitter said examples of problematic posts included false or misleading allegations of war crimes, false information regarding the international response and false allegations regarding use of force.
The company said it would rely on multiple sources to determine when claims are misleading. Strong commentary and first person accounts are among the types of tweets that would not be challenged by the policy, it said.
Twitter has approved a $44bn takeover by billionaire Elon Musk, who has criticised its content moderation policies
The new policies come just weeks after Twitter’s board agreed to a $44bn (£34.5bn) takeover offer from billionaire businessman Elon Musk, who has called for less moderated speech on the platform.
Musk had said in the past week that he would revoke Twitter’s suspension of former United States president, Donald Trump.
Modest Increase in the FAAC Payout – Coronation Economic Note
The gross monthly distribution by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) to the three tiers of government and public agencies amounted to N725.6bn in April (from March revenue). This shows an increase of 4.4% or N30.6bn from the previous payout.
Based on data in the local media, it was observed that companies’ income tax (CIT), petroleum profit tax (PPT), value-added tax (VAT), oil and gas royalties, import and excise duties recorded increases over the previous month. The FGN received a total of N277.1bn and state governments received N227.2bn, including N53.4bn representing the 13% derivation for the few oil producing states.
The headline figure consists of N337.4bn in gross statutory distribution, N165.6bn from the VAT Pool, and excess bank charges of N7.5bn was recovered. The total deductions for cost of collection was N44.4bn and the total deductions for statutory transfers, refunds and savings was N382.8bn.
The committee disclosed that the balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) is USD35.4m.
The average monthly FAAC distribution (N665.1bn in Q1 ‘22) declined from an average of N682.5bn in Q4 ’21 but is slightly above the average of N647.0bn recorded in Q1 ’21.
Based on local newswires, the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) has not made any remittance to the federation account this year due to the high fuel subsidy costs. The NNPC spent N210.4bn (USD500.1m), N219.8bn (USD522.9m) and N245.8bn (USD584.8m) as subsidies on petrol in January, February, and March respectively. This is a total of N675.9bn (USD1.6bn) in Q1 ’22.
The NNPC is expected to deduct N671.9bn from its remittance to FAAC for April which is due for sharing at the May ‘22 FAAC meeting. The estimated total shortfall of N671.9bn comprises of shortfalls recorded in February (N152bn) and March (N519bn).
Money markets saw an inflow of N391bn in early-May ‘22, representing the net distribution to state and local governments. The FGN’s share is directly to the treasury single account.
Analysts at Coronation expect continuous strain with regards to FAAC payouts. According to them, it is imperative for states that depend solely on the inadequate monthly FAAC distribution to seek ways to boost their internally generated revenue. The FGN’s primary objective should be to create a conducive business environment as IGR sustainability is a by-product of an enabling environment.
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