by Segun Odeleye
The speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has said that contrary to popular disgust, the salaries and allowances being earned by lawmakers are not excessive but reasonable considering the peculiarities of their job.
The speaker said this during the fifth Christopher Kolade Symposium Series organised by the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI).
Represented by the Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker stated that what many people have classified as lawmakers’ salaries were allowances they collect to discharge their duties effectively.
Expatiating further, Tambuwal said that his job as a lawmaker requires that he visits his constituency weekly, which puts his airfare allowance alone at N500, 000 monthly. This puts airfare allowance at N125,000 weekly.
According to him, he has challenged his colleagues to make their salaries and allowances public so that Nigerians would know their exact legislative packages. Obviously his calls has not yielded the desired effect as the salaries and allowances of lawmakers still remain a mystery; not even a court ruling has been able to make the lawmakers release the figures.
Tambuwal told the audience that even though the constitutional responsibilities of a lawmaker does not extend to rendering financial assistance to constituents, Nigerians have grown to rely heavily on the lawmakers for their personal needs.
Tambuwal observed that the Nigerian dream is “life more abundantly” and it could only come to fusion through a responsible followership which also holds the leadership accountable. He added that Nigeria’s dream has not been achieved because the masses have failed to hold government accountable. He attributed the historical woes and official corruption to the inability of the followers to hold on to their stance against all odds.
The speaker also spoke against zoning of public offices.
“Honestly, this idea of turn-by-turn arrangement in the holding of political offices does not produce the best leaders. Rotation of the Senate President’s seat, Office of the Governor or the zoning the Office of the President, based on sectional considerations, is not the best for us. It constricts the space, from which good leadership emerges and it also threatens good governance which is an ingredient for development,’’ he said.
Tambuwal urged Nigerians, especially those in the political class, to jettison the zoning system, saying that such a policy would strengthen the country’s democracy.