Going by the approved remuneration guidelines for federal lawmakers, the content of a payslip recently circulated by Speaker Yakubu Dogara mostly reflected some of his genuine earnings as the leader of the Nigerian House of Representatives, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
By Samuel Ogundipe
But it also indicates that the speaker may be earning N247, 711.47 more than what the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) recommended as his constituency allowance.
Mr. Dogara on April 12 released documents bearing his pay for a three-month period from January to March 2017, in an apparent response to Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The Kaduna State Governor had two days before published details of his state’s expenses, including his state’s security expenditure and personal pay slip, drawing nationwide accolades.
Mr. El-Rufai published the details after the speaker challenged him to disclose how Kaduna’s money and local government appropriation were being spent.
“I will like to challenge him (El-Rufai) to champion this cause for transparency in the budgetary process from the National Assembly to other arms of government beginning with the judiciary,” the speaker said on April 7. “What do they spend monthly as security votes, and if they can publish what happens to local government funds under their jurisdictions, that will help our discussion going forward.”
Mr. El-Rufai had earlier demanded transparency from Mr. Dogara, who together with Senate President Bukola Saraki, had maintained a water-tight secrecy around the National Assembly budget.
After Mr. El-Rufai released details of his account, Mr. Dogara released scanned copies of his basic pay as obtained from the National Assembly staff payroll office.
The documents, which were distributed by his media aide, Turaki Hassan, indicated that the speaker earned a total sum of N402.530.37 per month before statutory deductions.
Shortly after the details were made public, Abdulmumin Jibrin, an erstwhile ally of the speaker currently on suspension for triggering the budget padding scandal, asked Nigerians to be sceptical about the figures.
“If what I saw is the authentic payslip of Mr. Speaker, it means I earn more than him from what I see in my salary statement of account,” Mr. Jibrin tweeted on April 12.
But a PREMIUM TIMES’ reconciliation of Mr. Dogara’s payslip show they largely correlate with that designed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
A breakdown of the figures provided by the speaker showed that Mr. Dogara earned N206, 425.83, N175, 461.96 and N20, 642.58 as basic salary, constituency allowance and recess allowance, respectively, from January through March.
Based on his payslip, the speaker’s basic salary will accumulate to N2,477,109.96 per annum. The RMAFC set N2,477,110.00 for the same period.
Similarly, the speaker’s payslip showed he earned N20,642.58 as monthly recess allowance. Calculated over a 12-month period, he would receive N247, 710.96 per annum, which is about 10 per cent of his basic salary. The RMAFC pegged his recess allowance at 10 per cent of annual basic salary.
As his constituency allowance, Mr. Dogara claimed N175, 461.96. That would give the speaker N2, 105, 543. 52 per annum.
However, the RMAFC stipulated that Mr. Dogara should draw 75 per cent of his annual basic salary as constituency allowance, which is about N1, 857, 832.5.
This indicates that the speaker may have earned N247, 711.47 more than what RMAFC recommended as his constituency allowance.
The RMAFC did not say if the speaker was entitled to earn more than other lawmakers. The regulator only imposed 125 per cent and 75 per cent of annual basic salary as constituency allowances for senators and representatives, respectively.
The speaker’s spokesperson, Mr. Hassan did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for clarification. Phone calls, text messages and emails directed to him were not replied.
One noticeable fact from Mr. Dogara’s pay slip is that it contained only three of several categories of allowances and entitlements that the RMAFC prescribed for him and other lawmakers.
Apart from the basic salaries, constituency and recess allowances, Mr. Dogara and other lawmakers also receive provisions for accommodation, vehicle maintenance, and fuel allowance.
The emoluments, which run into tens of millions of naira include entertainment and utility allowances, responsibility allowance, annual leave allowance, wardrobe, hardship allowance, newspapers allowance, amongst others.
It is not clear if Mr. Dogara receives a separate pay slip for these other legal allowances, or if he received a bulk payment for them as some lawmakers are said to do.
The RMAFC also made provisions for lawmakers to receive estacode when they travel on assignments.
All these legal allowances are separate from the estimated N15 million that each lawmaker is said to receive quarterly as office running cost. This allowance is illegal and the lawmakers have never admitted receiving it.
It is impossible to tell the exact amount that accrues to Mr. Dogara, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the other 467 other senators and representatives on a yearly basis —since details of their annual budgets have been kept secret.
Since 2015, the two presiding officers, despite promises, have rebuffed the yearnings of Nigerians that their expenses be disclosed to the public. Mr. Dogara has, however, promised to make the details public in 2017.
Source: PREMIUM TIMES