The jumbo salary being paid to our law markers, which ranked the highest in the world, according to a new study, has attracted sharp criticisms from Nigerians across the country, including economists and lawyers.
A report by The Economist magazine revealed that Nigerian federal legislators with a basic salary of $189,500 per annum (N30.6m) were the highest paid lawmakers in the world.
Quoting data from the International Monetary Fund and The Economist magazine of London, the study looked at the lawmakers’ basic salary as a ratio of the Gross Domestic Product per person across countries of the world.
According to the report, the basic salary (which excludes allowances) of a Nigerian lawmaker is 116 times the country’s GDP per person of $1,600.
The $189,500 earned annually by each Nigerian legislator is estimated to be 52 per cent higher than what Kenya legislators, who are the second highest paid lawmakers, earned.
An Associate Professor of Economics at the Ekiti State University, Dr. Abel Awe, said the lawmakers’ jumbo salary was indicative of the huge gap between the poor and the rich as well as between the ruler and the ruled.
He said it was unfortunate that the country was running the costliest democracy in the world.
Awe said, “This is part of the reason why 70 per cent of the nation’s budget is allocated to re-current expenditure. We are using a huge chunk of the nation’s resources to service just less than 1,000 people in a country of over 160 million people.
“We are running the costliest democracy in the world. We can’t develop this way when we spend huge money to service a few people. How will you get money for productive activities to expand the economy? An average Nigerian cannot access good medical care, good roads and other basic things of life when the legislators are smiling to the bank.
“This democracy is satanic. We have to review this democracy. The cost of maintaining the lawmakers is outrageous. What they are taking is too much.”
An economist, Mr. Henry Boyo, said the study had shown clearly that the cost of governance in Nigeria was very high.
Boyo, who noted that the cost of governance was predicated on the provisions of the Constitution, said it was high time Nigerians cried against the bloated cost of governance.
He said, “Our legislators’ actions or salaries are actually accommodated by the Constitution. In the past, we had less money and we had enough as a country. People are asking for a change of Constitution.
“It is unfortunate that it is the people who will do it that are the ones in charge. The legislators will not vote against themselves.”
However, the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, dismissed the report as incorrect.
He said, “Whatever is being written is mere exaggeration and does not reflect what is accurate. They fail to realise that what we take as salaries are different from what we use in running our offices.
“These are two different issues. Most times, people just lump everything together and claim that it is our monthly salary; that is not correct. At the appropriate time, we shall react, because it is not just about the House but the National Assembly. The National Assembly will react at the right time.”
The report had suggested that a Nigerian federal lawmaker earned $189,000 or about N30m annually.
The magazine also published details of the annual salaries of legislators in other countries, some of which include Ghana, $46,500; Indonesia, $65,800; Thailand, $43,800; India, $11,200; Italy, $182,000; Bangladesh, N4,000; Israel, $114,800; Hong Kong, $130,000; Japan, $149,700; and Singapore, $154,000.