Four hundred and sixty-nine lawmakers who were elected on the platform of various political parties in the February 23 National Assembly elections and the subsequent supplementary election will get N4.68bn as welcome package immediately after their inauguration in June.
According to investigation made by The Punch, the package is to help lawmakers to fund accommodation and furniture issues. While accommodation is paid once every year, furniture allowance is paid once in four years
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission adds that accommodation and furniture allowances were two of the irregular entitlements of lawmakers and other political office holders.
Each member of the House of Representatives on resumption, therefore, is entitled to N9.926, 062.5, according to the prescription of the RMAFC in its Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders 2007 to Date.
This is the summation of furniture allowance of N5,955,637.5 and accommodation allowance of N3, 970,425 which a House of Representatives member is entitled to.
Therefore, the 360 lawmakers that will make up the House of Representatives to be inaugurated in June will be entitled to accommodation and furniture allowances of N3.57bn.
On the other hand, each senator is entitled to a combined furniture and accommodation allowance of N10,132,000 on assumption of office. While the accommodation allowance of a senator is N4,052,800, the furniture allowance is N6,079,200.
The 109 senators that will make up the 9th National Assembly will receive a total of N1.1bn when the red chamber opens in June altogether.
For motor vehicles, each of the senators is entitled to N8, 105,600 while each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to N7, 940,850.50.
The allowance for motor vehicles had been controversial in the past. According to RMAFC, this allowance payable once in four years is a loan and is optional. This means that it is repayable.
However, lawmakers that received the payment in the past had been known to ask the government to convert the loan to a grant.
Apart from these irregular allowances, there are other regular perks of office that are paid to lawmakers on a monthly basis. These include motor vehicle maintenance and fuelling. This is pegged at 75 percent of their monthly salary.
Others are personal assistant – 25 per cent; domestic staff – 75 per cent; entertainment – 30 per cent; utilities – 30 per cent; newspapers/periodicals – 15 per cent; wardrobe – 25 per cent; house maintenance – five per cent; and constituency – 250 per cent.
There are other entitlements that they are not paid to them directly but provided and paid for by the government. These are for their special assistants, security and legislative aides.
What this means is that those in this capacity 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 a need for health services.
The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance, estacode (when they travel) and recess allowances. For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37, 000 per night; the estacode is $950 per night and the recess allowance is 10 per cent of their annual salary.
For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35, 000 per night; the estacode is $900 per night and the recess allowance is 10 per cent of their annual salary.
But a former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has called on Nigerians to wage war against members of the 9th National Assembly and demand that they cut their salaries and allowances.
He said there was no way the country could sustain the type of money being received by the lawmakers.
Musa said that the situation had gone beyond appeal, saying begging the lawmakers to reason that the economic reality could not sustain such huge pay would not yield any positive result.
He recalled that an attempt by the late former President Shehu Shagari to then-members of the National Assembly on the same issue nearly cost him his office as he was threatened with impeachment.
Musa said, “Now, the situation is even worse. Therefore, I will not ask Nigerians to beg or appeal to the lawmakers. They should organise themselves and confront the lawmakers.
“They should fight them. If they do not, just a few of these men will cart away what belongs to the majority of the people. Many states are finding it difficult to pay salaries. They are almost becoming insolvent. Yet, a few lawmakers are feeding fat on the people and the country. This must stop if we must progress.”
Musa also called on the RMAFC to “get into work and do the needful” by drastically reducing the lawmakers’ pay.
Also, a non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, decried lawmakers’ huge pay, saying it was one of the reasons the nation’s growth had remain stunted.
According to Kolawole Oludare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, said, “The proposed payment to the incoming legislators is another example of financial profligacy that has stunted our growth as a nation. These funds are better committed to crucial sectors such as education, health care, and security.”
Speaking in the same vein, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ahmed Raji, said the incoming lawmakers should be guided by the state of the nation’s economy and Nigerians’ standards of living.
He said, “They should look at the state of the economy and the general living standards of people and the expectations of Nigerians from them and ask their conscience if the allowances are conscionable.”
Inside Enugu Where Families Kidnap One Another As Revenge
In Nigeria, even so-called men of God fake their own kidnap; same with husbands and wives. Sometimes, children also fake their own kidnap. Kidnapping has become fashionable in Africa’s most populous nation.
There is no end to kidnapping in Nigeria as kidnappers are often handsomely rewarded and sometimes given amnesty.
Even in Zamfara State, bandits who killed, kidnapped and razed houses were given ‘palatial’ treatment as they sat among policemen, traditional rulers, etc., to decide how peace could be maintained in the state. No arrest was made.
You kill, kidnap and commit arson in Nigeria, you are more likely to be respected.
But not every criminal-minded person enjoys that.
At other times, they are idolized and made celebrities. Upon the capture of the ‘billionaire’ kidnapper, Evans, Nigerian policemen excitedly posed for selfies with the alleged notorious kidnapper.
In Enugu, the kidnapping tale in Nigeria has become more intriguing with the news two brothers who kidnapped a member of another family for a bemusing reason, you will only know about in Nollywood movies.
According to PUNCH, two siblings were arrested by operatives of the Enugu State Police Command, on Friday.
They were Hyacinth Okeh and Fredrick Okweli.
Okeh and Okweli claimed that they were forced into kidnapping to avenge the abduction of their sister by their victim’s brothers.
These suspects were aged 20 and 22 respectively, are from Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ebere Amaraizu, said they were arrested following their alleged involvement in the kidnap of Enejere Charles, who he claimed was their third victim.
Ebere Amaraizu said N187,000, two automatic pump action guns, charms, and two single-barrelled guns were recovered from the suspects.
But speaking to a source, the two men, who confessed to the crime, said they kidnapped their victim because his brothers, whose names they gave as Ogbonna Michael and Ezea Ifeanyi abducted their sister and collected N600,000 as ransom before her release.
Fredrick Okweli said: “I was arrested with my brother for kidnapping one man from our community. His brother abducted our sister and we kidnapped his brother in retaliation.
“We took our victim inside the bush and called his people to pay money before we released him.
“They paid the money but when we went to collect it at Ubollo-Afor in Udenu Local Government Area, the police arrested us”.
Hyacinth Okeh said: “After the money was paid and we were going to collect it at Ubollo-Afor, we didn’t know that security operatives had set a trap for us.
“Immediately we got to the place, we were arrested and taken back to the bush where we hid the victim and the gun, we used to carry out the operation.
“We had never kidnapped anybody before. We were forced to do this because Michael and Ifeanyi kidnapped our sister and collected money from us despite pleading with them,” he claimed.
Kidnapping: South-west State Assemblies Mull Stiffer Punishment For Kidnappers
The South-west state assemblies say they will establish laws that will impose stiffer punishment on kidnappers in the region.
Lagos and Ogun states already have laws prescribing the death penalty for kidnappers.
According to the Deputy Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Iroju Ogundeji, a bill recommending a death sentence for kidnappers was already in the works in Ondo and was awaiting passage.
The lawmaker, who decried the state of kidnappings and other forms of insecurity in the state, said the assembly was not happy with the development, especially the killing of Olakunrin.
Ogundeji said: “We are not happy with the ugly development; we already have a bill stipulating capital punishment for kidnappers and the bill would soon be passed into law. The bill entails that anybody found guilty of the kidnapping offence will be sentenced to death.”
Timothy Owoeye, the Speaker of the Osun State assembly, stated that the assembly would prescribe life imprisonment for kidnapping.
Owoeye said he had introduced the bill to the parliament and it would discourage kidnapping because of the stiff penalty recommended.
Owoeye said: “The bill which I introduced in June to curb the menace of kidnapping has passed first reading. The bill titled ‘State of Osun Kidnapping (Prohibition Bill), 2019’ recommends life imprisonment for perpetrators of the dastardly act.
“The bill has passed first reading but the House has decided to conduct public hearings so as to get the input of critical stakeholders as well as kidnap victims.
“On the issue of the death penalty, when the victim of a kidnap dies in the process of kidnapping, it is simply a murder charge; and it will be repetitive to introduce new laws considering there are enacted laws in place to deal with the issue.”
The Ekiti assembly has also called for a review of existing laws on kidnapping and banditry with the imposition of more stringent penalties for the offences.
The Speaker of the Ekiti assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, said a law for “very stiff penalties” would be passed “after a meeting of all stakeholders in the South-West”.
She said the house would not support death sentence for kidnappers, saying, “For now, a very stiff penalty is okay.”
However, the Speaker of the Oyo assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, said consultations were ongoing over the spate of kidnappings in order to get an enabling law that would cater for all the six states in the South-West.
All the six states’ assemblies in the region recently converged on Ibadan for a security summit and agreed to tackle the menace of kidnapping.
Ogundoyin said: “On the issue of whether there would be a death penalty for killer herdsmen or kidnappers, we are going to take a common position on that with other state assemblies in the zone.”
Save Lagos From Child Cultism, African Action Congress Tells Sanwo-Olu
The Lagos State Chapter of the African Action Congress has called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to immediately address child cultism and insecurity in Lagos.
The party stated that the terror of child cultism was rapidly growing in the state, estimating that ‘six out of every ten children’ in Lagos are cultists.
The party said, “a 72-hour mass violence of child cultism with different names like “Omo Kesari” , “Awawa” “One Million Boys,” Seven Street Boys in Oshodi; Judas Iscariot Boys in Ejigbo; and others in Idimu, Ikotun and other areas vindicate the reports that Lagos is one of the most underdeveloped states in Nigeria, given the wealth owned by the state and the fact that its debt is second only to the Federal Government.”
Kunle Wizeman Ajayi, Acting State Chair of AAC, heaped the blame of child cultism on the low quality of education in the state, adding that the political leaders further impoverished the people by taking over all local trade places in the state.
“The reign of child cultism today can be attributed to the general collapse of public education in Lagos as well as the mass unemployment in the state. Private schools are times three of public schools.
“It is also appalling that most of the trading power of our poor people like markets, mechanic villages, and sports arenas have all been destroyed, seized.
“Then what kind of government is ignoring the night economy? This is a lucrative economy that can even resolve unemployment as well as reduce child cultism,” Wizeman said.
He stressed that the Lagos State government must put measures in place to equip and ensure all children have access to free education.
He also urged the state governor to desist from the indiscriminate arrest of innocent citizens through the machinery of the state government.
“Child cultists can be trained to become the greats of the future with democratic, pro-people standards!
“Governor Sanwo-Olu must also not resort to setting the Lagos Task Force loose to arrest traders, innocent citizens, and Okada riders. Face the real issues and tackle the problems headlong.
“Even if a government wants to prevent trade littering the streets, is it not much more correct to create alternative spaces for these traders instead of violent repression.
“Lagos AAC calls on Lagos towns to immediately build independent community Vigilance Teams. Then we all need to demand that Lagos is truly made working at all levels through free functional and compulsory education.
“Massive industrialisation and creative development of the night economy are needed to cater for employment and reducing poverty,” Wizeman stated.
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