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National Assembly: Lawmaker Receives $224,000, Highest paid Worldwide

Saraki-Dogara-e1434117907160About N1.154 trillion was appropriated for the National Assembly in the last ten years (2005 to 2014), out of the country’s total budget of N35.67tr during the period.

Dr. Ladi Hamalai, Director-General, National Legislative Institute, disclosed the figure on Tuesday in a presentation during a media parley in Abuja titled, “The National Assembly Context.”
According to Hamalai, $16,000 basic salary of Nigeria’s parliamentarian was the lowest when compared to $174,000 in US; $105,998 in UK; $56,400 in South Africa and $18,000 in Benin.
However, the $208,000 total allowance received by a parliamentarian in Nigeria is higher than what his colleague in South Africa, with $9,680 gets.

It also shows that a total compensation for a parliamentarian in Nigeria is the highest compared to what is paid in US; UK, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Benin.

While the total compensation for a Nigerian parliamentarian is $224,000, $174,000 is paid in US; $66,080 in South Africa; $33,120 in Ghana and $157,080 in Kenya.
The total budget of the National Assembly between 2005 and 2014 represented 3.23 percent of the national budget.

Hamalai stated that there were a lot of misconceptions about the National Assembly, adding that the traditional role of the legislature included oversight, law making and amendment as well as representation.

In the presentation, she listed common misconceptions about the National Assembly to include poor performance, jumbo salaries and allowances, lack of integrity, indiscipline as well as corruption and insensitivity.

Hamalai stated, “Misperceptions and lack of proper projection of the work of the National Assembly in the public domain is a major issue. We have been trying our best, but we need a lot of resources to go out there in full force to project some of these facts and figures.

“We do not believe in the institute that we should sermonise. What are the facts? Let people look at the facts and verify the facts themselves and make up their minds. That is our approach. We have not been out there fully because of resource constraint.”
The director-general stated that, out of the national budget of N1.79tn in 2005, the National Assembly got N55.43bn.

In 2006, N54.78bn was appropriated for the National Assembly out of N1.89tn national budget; N70.748bn out of N2.47tn in 2007; N112bn out of N2.748tn in 2008; N106bn out of N3.10tn in 2009 and N154bn out of N4.60tn in 2010.

In 2011, the National Assembly got a budget of N150bn out of N4.48tn national budget; N150bn out of N4.87tn in 2012; N150bn out of N4.98tn in 2013 and N150bn out of N4.69tn in 2014.
She explained that in relative terms, the budget allocation to National Assembly declined from 4.1 percent of the total national budget in 2008 to 3.01 percent in the 2013 fiscal year.
According to the DG, recurrent budget accounted for nearly 90 percent of the funds allocated to the National Assembly.

She stated, “This is understandable in that most of the assembly’s functions require recurrent funding and the Assembly, unlike the executive arm of government, is not involved in the execution of major capital projects.

“In line with this, the overhead component accounts for the lion’s share of the recurrent budget.”
Speaking on the challenges facing the parliament in African countries, Hamalai said there was the dearth of aides with high-level technical capacity in many African parliaments including Nigeria.
“This implies that some legislators would not have the benefit of good briefs from their aides on issues to be debated in the legislatures,” she stated.

She estimated the total number of staff in Nigeria’s National Assembly at 3,373; the number of personal aides per member in Nigeria as five; in the US, 18; one in South Africa; none in Ghana and Benin.

She said the committee’s members of staff in the US were 2,492; 90 in South Africa; 25 in Benin and 300 in Nigeria, adding that research members of staff in the US were 4,479; 50 each in Nigeria and South Africa; seven in Ghana; 25 in Kenya and 20 in Benin.

She explained that oversight instruments in the National Assembly included receiving briefs from ministries, departments and agencies; visiting MDAs; project inspection; engagement with appropriation bill/budgetary function and public/ investigative hearing.
“During the 2008/2009 and 2012/2013 sessions, almost every committee was engaged in the consideration of the annual budget estimates.

“Other commonly applied instruments are visits to MDAs, project inspection, interactive meetings/sessions, and briefs sent from the MDAs.

“However, investigative hearing and public petitions were the most rarely used instruments by both Houses. The latter is the major instrument of the committee on ethics, code of conduct and public petitions,” Hamalai said, noting that there was the need to correct the misconceptions about the National Assembly and properly project its work.

“If you look at the implication of bad press, it can be so severe on the image of all arms of government that are supposed to be fulcrums of democracy. If we remove the National Assembly, there is no democracy,” she stated.

By Patrick Aigbokhan

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