Claim: Daily Trust reported that the Federal Government, through the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), has approved a 114% salary increase for all elected politicians in Nigeria.
Verdict: MISLEADING. Although the Commission recommended the increment before the new administration, it is yet to be approved by the new executive.
Since the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as president of Nigeria on May 29, 2023, he has been implementing several policies that have directly impacted the country’s economy. Topping the chart was the fuel subsidy removal which has subjected Nigerians to untold hardship as food prices and transport fares have skyrocketed.
Some of the propositions made by the citizens were for the commission to consider a downward review of elected politicians’ remuneration. However, the clamour for reducing political expenditure in Nigeria has been contested since the previous administration, led by Muhammadu Buhari.
It was surprising when a report published by Daily Trust newspaper on June 21, 2023, revealed that the Federal Government, through the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), had approved the increment of elected politicians’ salaries by 114%. The headline reads, “FG approves 114% salary increase for Tinubu, Shettima, gov, others”. People’s Gazette also reported it, another credible media platform.
Both reports, citing the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the Commission’s chairman, Muhammad Shehu, made the call at the presentation of reports of the reviewed remuneration package to Kebbi State governor, Dr Nasir Idris, on June 20 in Birnin Kebbi. The chairman, represented by a federal commissioner, Rakiya Tanko-Ayuba, disclosed that the last amendment was in 2007.
Since publication, the report has garnered harsh reactions from Nigerians, who claimed that the country’s governance cost is exorbitant and should be reduced.
Subsequently, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP), a civil society organisation promoting transparency in government, has called for the government to “reject the outrageous proposal” or face the music at the court of law.
The tweet reads, “BREAKING: The Tinubu administration must reject the outrageous proposals to raise the salaries of elected politicians by 114% and spend N24bn on accommodation for 10th N’Assembly members. We’ll see in court if the proposals are not immediately withdrawn.”
The tweet indicates that the review is still a proposal, which is not yet approved, as stated by the media house. DUBAWA ran a fact-check to demystify the confusion.
The Section 84 of the 1999 constitution empowers the Commission to decide the remuneration of elected politicians and public office holders, while subsection four lists out eligible office occupants that can enjoy such reviews. They include the judiciary, and the executive at the federal levels of government, while Section 124 (4) provides authority at the state level.
However, some procedures must be carried out before such remuneration is implemented. The President must only approve the review after submission by the fiscal body, as stated in Section 204 (2).
It reads, “In the exercise of any powers under subsection (1) of this section, any such body shall not confer powers or impose duties on any officer or authority of the Federation except with the approval of the President.”
The President must, however, hold a meeting with the council of ministers before proceeding, according to Chapter 6, Section 148 (2c). As of June 21, 2023, the President has yet to approve a council of ministers by the National Assembly who can advise him on the decision.
Also, President Tinubu is currently in Paris to attend the Summit on New Global Financing Pact, hosted by his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
According to the news report, the recent remuneration review was effective from January 1, 2023, under the Buhari-led administration. However, the executive and legislative houses were exempted, as only the judiciary and other workers benefited from the review.
Through its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Christian Nwachukwu, the Commission reacted to the report, disclosing that Mr Tinubu has yet to approve the review.
While it is true that the commission has proposed a 114% increase for elected politicians in Nigeria, the decision is subject to approval from the executive and the legislature, which is yet to be formed. The PRO of RMAFC also clarified that the president is yet to approve the review. The report is, therefore, inaccurate and misleading.