A Nigerian senator earns more in Salary than Barack Obama and David Cameron

Appendix to Press Release: a Nigerian senator earns more in Salary than Barack Obama and David Cameron

Effective from January 1, 2001, the annual salary of the president of the United States was doubled to $400,000 (N60m) per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance making the president the highest paid public servant. The $400,000 includes everything and $350,000 out of it is taxable.
Below is a table of the earnings of some politicians in the US:

Public Officers Earning per year  ($) Earning per year Naira (million)
President 400000.00 60.0
V. President 227300.00 34.1
Speaker of the House 223500.00 33.5
Majority Leader (Senate) $193,400 29.1
Minority Leader (Senate) $193,400 29.1
Other Senators 174000.00 26.1
Majority Leader (Representative) $193,400 29.1
Minority Leader (Representative) $193,400 29.1
Cabinet Secretary $193,400 29.1


* Exchange rate is set at  $1.00 = N150.00*Please note that US Vice President is also the Senate president.Below is a table showing some of the items in the new (reduced) package for the members of the Nigeria National Assembly: 


Items Senator (N) Representative(N)
Basic salary/Regular allowances 11,145,200 9,926,062
Furniture 3,039,600 2,744,454
Motor Vehicle Loan 5,066,000 4,963,031
Duty Tour Allowance per day 23,000 21,000
Severance Gratuity 6,079,200 5,955,637
Estacodes $600 $550


Other allowances expressed as percentages of basic salaries are:
Hardship Allowance  @ 50%   
Constituency allowance @ 200%     
Newspaper allowance @  50%    
Wardrobe allowance @ 25%     
Recess Allowance @ 10%   
Accommodation @ 200%    
Utilities @ 30%    
Domestic Staff @ 75%    
Entertainment @ 30%      
Personal Assistance @ 25%      
Vehicle Maintenance Allowance @ 75%   
Leave Allowance @10%


This analyses translate to the fact that in addition to the regular and legitimate salaries and allowances of N17 million ($113,333) and N14.99 million ($99,933) which senators and reps were collecting yearly and the irregular allowance of estacodes, duty tours etc, they were also collecting N192m ($1.28m)   and N140m ($0.93m) respectively in illicit quarterly allocation which is not provided for by RMAFC.

Effectively, a Nigerian senator was taking home at least $1.40m ($1.28m quarterly allocations + $0.113m regular salaries and allowances) as against the $0.174m an American senator takes home hence a Nigeria senator earns at least 8 times as much as an American senator and more than 3 times the American president.

Whereas a Senator in the U.S earns N21, 146,000, the same as a member of the House of Representatives; a UK Member of Parliament earn £64,766 (N14, 896,180)

In other words, a Federal Legislator in Nigeria is paid more than double what a Member of British Parliament earns per annum.

Senate President David Mark alone takes N250 million quarterly or N83.33 million per month. Senate Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu gets N150 million per quarter or N50 million a month.

Mark and Ekweremadu earns in 4 months, six times what the UK Prime Minister earns in a year. David Cameron goes home with £190,000 per anum (N43, 700,000)

In a Next newspaper news article entitled ‘An Assembly for looting’ written by Musikilu Mojeed with Elor Nkereuwem, the authors rightly claimed that each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives were getting  N35 million in cash money in quarterly allocation while each of the 109 Senators pockets N48 million each.  These allocations have however been slashed by 20% to N27 million ($180,000) and N38 million ($253,333) respectively due to the 20% reduction requested by the late president.

The cut has been a source of a major controversy in the House of Representatives in the past few days where members are agitating to jerk up the sum to N42m quarterly at a time when the government is lamenting being broke and when the already signed 2010 budget is being cut by as much as 40%. What a bunch of greedy inhuman lots! The discordance has caused members of the House to force the speaker, Dimeji Bankole to reduce his quarterly allowance from N140m ($933,333) to N100m ($666,667) or from an annual allowance of N560m ($3.73m) to N400m ($2.67m).

According to data obtained from CIA World Factbook, Nigeria has an estimated per capital income (purchasing power parity) of $2,400 in 2009 as against USA’s $46,400. This means that the average earning in the US is 19.33 times as much as in Nigerian.

With the reduced salary package, a Nigeria senator still get paid N11 million ($73,333) in regular salaries and allowances annually and N152m ($1.03m)  in four (quarterly) allocation making a total of $1.11m plus irregular allowances like estacodes and duty tour allowances. 

The Senate has allocated N1, 024,000,000 as quarterly allowance to its 10 principal officers, known collectively as the Senate leadership – Each of the eight other principal officers take home N78 million every three months or N26 million per month.

Besides, for this year, the Senate has voted N2.6 billion for local travel, N2.45 billion (foreign travel), N1.25 million (security), N2.28 billion (contingency), N750 million (guest houses for Mark and Ekweremadu), and N500 million (establishment of radio and television stations).

The Executive Branch of government

A Nigerian Minister is paid N31,915,800 (32 million) per year, comprising salary (2,026,400), and benefits plus allowances (N29,889,400)…American secretary (N23,488,000); British Secretary (N29,736,000) German Minister (N30,287,667.20).”

A Nigeria Minister of State gets N30, 538,248 (salary N1, 957,580; allowances N28, 580,666) higher than those of a South African Minister (N7, 704,558);

Compare again to American secretary (N23, 488,000); British Secretary (N29, 736,000) German Minister (N30, 287,667.20)

A local government councillor in Nigeria earn over N1 million per month while a university professor, or a director in a ministry is paid peanuts as take home.

The salary review of political office holders till date revealed that 17,474 officials earned N1.12 trillion yearly of the N1.12 trillion about N94, 959,545,401.20 billion is spent on salaries and N1, 031,654,689,033.18 trillion goes to allowances annually.

While 16,540 out of the political officeholders, as revealed from the document emanating from the Presidency to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) are expected to undergo a pay cut in line with former President Yar’adua’s proposal earlier in the year, this is yet to take effect.

The officers are: Federal Executive (472); Federal Legislature (1,152); Local Government Executive (3,096) and local government legislature (8,692).

According to the document, officers taken this large lump sum evidently, approximately 17,500 officials only constitute 0.014 per cent (less than a quarter of a percent) of Nigeria’s estimated 140 million people.

Again, it is common knowledge that the salaries of these officers amount to nothing compared to the juicy fringe benefits that accrue to them.

It could be recalled that ministers, advisers, legislators salaries were all jerked up in 2007 and 2008. While the members of National Assembly got 100% pay rise which would cost Nigerian tax payers N52.4 billion every year, and an additional N15.02 billion as multi-purpose allowances given to the lawmakers on quarterly basis, the package accruing to the federal executives had jumped by over 1,000 percent to N98 billion due to their allowances as compared N65.5 billion paid the federal executives during the last regime.

The last time Nigerian workers ever had an enhanced salary package was in 2000 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo announced the N5, 500 and N7, 500 minimum wages both for state and federal workers respectively.

Comparison of the Salaries of Politicians vis-a-vis other professions in USA and Nigeria

The politicians’ salaries listed above might look big to you but if you look at what is obtainable in the society, you’ll surely get the drift. I’d like to compare the earning of these top political positions with those of surgeons in America.

According to, several factors such as experience, employer, location, gender and degrees may affect the earnings of a heart surgeon. Salaries discussed here are median earnings from 2009.

• Degree: A cardiac surgeon with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree will earn an average yearly salary of $292,774. If he has completed a Ph.D., however, the annual salary may rise to $400,000 on average.

It can be inferred from this that a surgeon earn as much as the president or even more. And in nearly all cases a surgeon earns more than the VP and other public office holders.

In the US, top attorneys in a top legal firm earn as much as $500,000 annually, a top journalist (like Christiane Amanpour) earns over a $1m, Wall street guys and top business executives earn $ millions in salaries, benefit, stock options etc. Top Sportsmen and Entertainers earn tens of $ million in salaries, endorsements, advertisements, profit sharing etc. Top CEOs also earn tens and in exceptional cases, hundreds of $ million in salaries, benefit, stock options and profit sharing.

If you consider the fact that many top politicians were also top earners before joining politics, you’d be able to understand the sacrifice intended.

The annual salary of the Surgeon General is about $190,000.

It’s a known fact Michelle Obama, the US first lady was earning much more as a hospital administrator in Chicago than her husband, President Barack Obama was earning as a US senator. According to the couple’s 2006 income tax return, her salary was $273,618 from the University of Chicago Hospitals as Vice President for Community and External Affairs, while her husband had a salary of $157,082 from the United States Senate.

In Nigeria, political offices are often seen as a get-rich-quick avenue because the legitimate salaries and benefits are enormous and are probably unobtainable elsewhere in the system. Another reason is that politicians can also meddle with the public funds with impunity. Candidly, public officers do not differentiate between public and private funds and this is probably the main cause of the do-or-die politics. All arms of government collaborate in the looting causing no checks and balances.

After the late former president Umaru Yar’Adua complained about the nation’s dwindling revenues and that politicians were being overpaid and causing his government a financial stress, there was an approved reduced remunerative package for the politicians. Based on the this, each of the 107 senators (excluding the Senate President and his deputy) would be collecting N11 million ($73,333) in basic salaries and regular allowances every year while a member of the House of Representatives would get N9.9 million ($66,000). Previously, a senator was getting N17 million ($113,333) while a House member was collecting N14.99 million ($99,933).

The regular allowances are accommodation, car maintenance, domestic staff, personal assistant, entertainment, leave, utilities, newspaper/periodicals and constituency. These figures do not include non-regular allowances– vehicle loan, furniture allowance, estacodes, and duty tour allowance and severance gratuity–which are paid separately to each legislator as they become due.

From a previous salary of about N10,000, a police constable now earns between N22,000 and N27,000 depending on his length of service and accommodation plan, while a sergeant’s pay has gone up from N15,000 to about N30,000. And from a pay slip of about N22,000, a Police inspector now earns at least N50,000 monthly.

Let me give an insight of the monthly salary of Nigerian police officers:

Constable = N22, 000 (£98) – N27, 000 (£120.27)

Corporal = N27, 000 (£120.27) – N28, 000 (£124.73)

Sergeant = N31, 000 (£138.09)

Inspector = N50, 000 (£222.72) – N52, 000 (£231.63)

Assistant Superintendent of Police = N80, 000 (£ 356.36) – N83, 000(£369.72) depending on whether he is a one-star ASP or two-star ASP.

A deputy Superintendent of Police = N90, 000 (£400.90)

A full superintendent = N100, 000 (£445.45)

In some states, while the state government claims not to have money to pay workers, it finds it convenient to pay politicians hundreds of thousands as monthly salary for doing practically nothing than looting the state blind. How can a state government justify the over N300, 000 salary paid to a ward councilor (and over N60, 000 to a councilor’s wife) while the highest paid teachers collects less than 30 percent and the least paid teacher collects less than 4 percent of a councilor’s pay. The total annual salaries of councilors in a state like Osun State (running to over N1.4 billion) are enough to employ 2240 workers on N50, 000 monthly salaries. This is pure robbery!

Yet, they reject the payment of N52, 200 minimum wages that the national leadership of NLC and TUC are fighting for.

Other Illegalities

Of all these allowances, the most intriguing is the constituency allowance. What is constituency allowance? You may ask. It is an allowance approved by Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). The constituency allowance as approved by RMAFC is supposed to be 200% of the basic salary for politician but in reality, they are paid far more than that. The major flaw of this allowance is that the law does not require the politicians to file reports of how the money is spent.

The executives are not left behind, infact, the legislative plunder is like a child’s play compared to what the executives are illegally taking away from the system.

In addition to their constituency allowances, It is no longer a news that governors collect billions of naira as security votes which are unaccounted for and which makes everyone wonder which security are they providing with the money.

According to Davidson Iriekpen in an article titled, Security Vote – for Whose Security? “Every year, billions of naira is allegedly squandered under the guise of security votes. The funds suspected to be illegal, are purportedly being used to provide security for the president, governors and their domains, whereas they are being transferred into personal bank accounts. In spite of these huge sums of money, killings, kidnappings, cultism and other security threats are on the increase across the states. At the federal level, funds are allocated to the Ministry of Defence for the upkeep and welfare of the armed forces and the police, yet billions are still voted for the President as security votes whose impact is unknown.”

Many of the governors appropriate the sum ranging from several hundreds of millions of naira to billions monthly as security vote.  And also according to human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, security vote is an illegality and irresponsibility on the part of the country’s leaders. He condemned the governors for appropriating security votes to them even when they know that it is unconstitutional. He also argued that the governors who indulge in security votes rob the society of essential resources.

In a report by RMAFC chairman, Hamman Tukur to the presidency, “He said the Federal, State and Local Governments flout the remuneration provisions made by the commission through frivolous foreign trips, arbitrary appointment of aides and use of excessively large motorcades.

He further said “based on the constitution, RMAFC has the final say on the remuneration package of National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly members, while a law need to be enacted based on the commission’s proposals regarding the pay packages of executive and judicial office holders.”

Notwithstanding this warning, this illegality thrives from the presidency to the council. As the president takes billions of naira in monthly security vote, he also take several millions in constituency allowance.


Past surveys of salaries and benefits of public office holders from the Baltic to the Bahamas, the Americas and the Far East and everywhere else, has showed that Ministers and Federal Legislators in Nigeria are the highest paid in the world, despite the country being among the poorest in terms of per capita income, security, social provision and living standards. On the other hand, Nigerian workers are one of the lowest paid in the world.

The Nigerian Minister earns more than his American, British or German counterpart, and of course enjoys pecks of office those ones cannot even dare dream of – for doing next to NOTHING!!!

Likewise a Senator and his House of Representatives counterpart in Nigeria receive much more than their contemporaries elsewhere.

Do you know even any local government Chairman in Nigeria who does not own houses and fleet of cars?

Nigeria is a relatively poor country and there is no justification for a Nigerian politician earning much more than his American counterpart while others in other callings earn a fraction of what is obtainable in the US.

I think it’s about time we work out a ceiling system for the remunerations of public servants and tie them to what is obtainable in certain professions. And until we get this right, our politics will continue to be a do-or-die affair with the greedy lots dominating the air as their only attractions are the perks of the offices


See the press release here