Nigerian Legislators: Lawmakers or Commonwealth Looters?

President Umaru Yar’Adua labelled Nigerian lawmakers a do-nothing-legislature, yet, Nigerian Senators and Representatives reportedly gulps more than N4.7 Billion Pay Package a year (N40m each per month).

Only 25 members from the 19 Northern States, representing about 13 percent of the North’s total 190 members in the House of Representatives sponsored or made meaningful contributions to any bills in the last two years.

Yet, each member will get N9.9 million BASIC Salary each year.

The oversight duties of the Banking and Finance Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to capably monitor the liquidity and solvency situation that plunged Nigeria banks into the present crisis. Yet each member could pocket a total of N4Om a month!

The Senate has said the N1 billion voted for the reviewing of the 1999 Constitution was inadequate. On Tuesday September 1, 2009, Deputy of Senate President and Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution, Ike Ekweremadu told newsmen in Abuja that the N500 million earmarked each for the two chambers of the National Assembly was not enough. He said the committee had begun talks with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a view to sourcing more funds for the execution of the exercise.

Nigerian senators can’t find money to solve Nigeria’s problem, yet they take home N4Om a month every month no wonder why they would do anything to get there

See how we arrive at the N4Om:

1 Senator Salary Base 2,484,242.50
2 Wardrobe Allowance 25% > 620,000
3 Recess Allowance 10% > 248,000
4 Accommodation Allowance 200% > 4,900,000
5 Utilities Allowance 30% > 745,000
6 Domestic Allowance 75% > 1,800,000
7 Entertainment Allowance 30% > 745,000
8 Personal Assistance Allowance 25% > 620,000
9 Vehicle Maintenance Allowance 75% > 1,800,000
10 Leave Allowance 10% > 248,000
11 Constituency Allowance 250% > 6,200,000
12 Hardship Allowance 50% > 1,200,000
13 Newspaper Allowance 50% > 1,200,000
14 Furniture Allowance 300% > 7,400,000
15 Severance Gratuity Allowance 300% > 7,400,000

Total Official Payment per Senator over N40 million

House of Reps

Basic salary/Regular allowances N11,145,200 N9,926,062
Furniture N3,039,600 N744,454
Motor Vehicle Loan N5,066,000 N4,963,031
Duty Tour Allowance N23,000 per day N21,000 per day
Estacode $600 per day $550 per day

Severance Gratuity N6, 079,200 N5, 955,637

Senators and members of the House of Representatives will walk away with N4.7 billion every year from the lean Federal treasury as basic salaries and regular allowances while many more billions will be spent on their non-regular allowances. This is according to the new, reduced remuneration packages for public officers fixed by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

Based on the new package, each of the 107 senators (excluding the Senate President and his deputy) will collect N11 million in basic salaries and regular allowances every year while a member of the House of Representatives will get N9.9 million. Previously, a senator was getting N17 million while a House member was collecting N14.99 million.

As detailed above, the regular allowances are accommodation, car maintenance, domestic staff, personal assistant, entertainment, leave, utilities, newspaper/periodicals and constituency. While non-regular allowances– vehicle loan, furniture allowance, estacode, and duty tour allowance and severance gratuity- are paid separately to each legislator as they become due.

This package was prepared by RMAFC following a letter by President Umaru Yar’Adua asking the commission to slash remuneration packages of political, public and judicial officers given the nation’s dwindling revenues. RMAFC chairman Hamman Tukur presented a four-volume report to the president containing reviewed pay packages for federal, state and local government political, public and judicial office holders.

Based on the constitution, RMAFC has the final say on the remuneration package of National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly members.

A Lawmaker could pocket most of this N40 mil payment every month or quarterly. The true cost of a lawmaker’s service per year is beyond outrageous. Factor in the figures for each governor, state assembly legislator, commissioner, special adviser to governor, special adviser to president, LG chairman, LG council person, president, deputy president, minister, etc. and you will conclude that this is indeed a very expensive democracy.

These emoluments are criminally outrageous and absolutely repugnant. There is no way we can afford or survive this kind of democracy. It’s either we end up cannibalizing out ourselves in a do-or-die struggle or the state goes bankrupt.

Yet this has been the state of affairs, even under military regimes. The only difference is that under democratic rule, people have more access to data on the true costs of the corrupt administrative state. 

As one Nigerian pointed out to me; all of this is to be expected in a country, which is organized to facilitate the looting of public treasuries. We are dealing with an Empire of Thieves, he said: a corrupt administrative state, in which most people aspire to public office, in order to join the ranks of the looters of public treasuries.

We are considering a country, where the average citizen is not shocked, by the fact that the economically non-productive sector, the public sector, consumes about 70 percent of the country’s GDP.

70 percent of Nigerians survive on 140 Naira a day, or 4,200 Naira a month. But his representative could make 40 million naira per month. Yet Nigerians could not even protest the idea that a president could make himself the oil minister, in order to have a free hand, in looting the public treasury with reckless abandon.

This is a legislature where a group of lawmakers would sit together and share billions meant for his constituency project and funds meant for a Ministry he supervises. Rep Elumelu & co was accused and currently being prosecuted for embezzling 6.7 Billion Naira meant for rural electrification and other constituency projects. While Senator Iyabo Obasanjo and co shared billions meant for the Health Ministry.

In such a polity, officialdom is merely giving the Thieves in Power a double-bound guarantee. The treasury will be looted in the apogee of criminal moments, but at other times, the administrative state will transfer as much of the country’s revenue as possible in the form of salaries, to the same cast of characters. Add also the money he claims for a retinue of legislative assistants which he neither hires nor pay.

While Hurricane Sanusi has engulfed our financial system in its biggest crisis in 25 years, majority of our legislators are presently gallivanting on the streets of Europe and America; would it be asking too much for Nigerians to expect their legislators to cut short their vacation and hold a special session on the banking crisis?

Scottish lawmakers cut short their holiday to deliberate on the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Surely our banking crisis would have more implication for Nigerians than the release and repatriation of Abdul Baset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi to Libya for the Scots.

Why are Nigerian lawmakers not demanding for policy brief from the President on the banking crisis? Unfortunately as one Nigerian pointed out to me: we no get lawmakers just biz men… when we go realize say politics in naija is money making venture

What actually were the oversight duties of the Banking and Finance Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate overseeing? From all the fat allowances and other emoluments collected, did they see and hear of no evil? With enormous powers to summon, take testimonies and demand for documents, why did they not have information about the impending doom? Did they have information and decide to cover it up? Either these legislators discovered these malfeasances and decided to cover it up – may be after being compromised by the management of banks. Or they discovered the malfeasance and decided to do nothing!

Some of these legislators are not very vibrant in contributions to debates, motions and the sponsoring of bills. Some of them are semi illiterates; some are secondary school leavers and half baked diploma holders. Most of them cannot read and understand motions and bills. They cannot understand debates on the floor of House, so they feel inadequate in the chamber. So to keep away from embarrassment and inferiority complex, they don’t attend sittings. Debates are shallow, they are worse than beer parlour debates.

The social background of these members is another factor. Most of them are business men; car dealers, contractors, former drug pushers and 419ers, petty traders and hangers on of politicians, particularly governors. Their aim of coming to the House is simply to make money and increase capital. So, the National Assembly is seen as way of making fast and easy money; legislation is secondary.

Most of them see the National Assembly as a fashion centre, where they display their white gowns, cars and handsets. Many of them have turned legislation upside down. To cover their inadequacies, they go to their constituencies and start buying cars, motorcycles, fertilizer and distributing to the electorate, as well as painting class rooms etc. I know of a member who bought a jeep for a governor.

Some members have been in the National Assembly for about ten years now and they have never made contributions on the floor of the House. A large chunk of them, from 2003 to date, have not uttered the word “Mr Speaker“ on the floor of the House. They don’t attend sittings and they pay chamber attendants to write their names in the register.

Legislators from the Northern part of Nigeria are worse in this regard. The Daily Trust reported that Northerners have the highest number of truant legislators in the House of Representatives – In fact one Northern member’s last appearance in the House was on the inauguration day, two years ago.

They also engage in the criminal conduct of paying chamber attendants to sign the attendance register on their behalf. Moreover, Only 25 members from the 19 Northern States, representing about 13 percent of the North’s total 190 members in the House, sponsored or made meaningful contributions to any bills in the last two years.

In order words, while they constitute more than half of the entire membership, the members from the North who sponsored bills amount to just seven percent of the membership of the entire chamber. 

Early this year, Nigeria President Umaru Yar’Adua scored the performance of the National Assembly at below average since he assumed office in 2007.

Details of the performance rating, which are contained in a bill sent to the National Assembly by the President, indicated that only one bill, the 2009 Appropriation Bill, had been passed by the lawmakers five months into 2009.

The breakdown contained in the bill also showed that they passed only four laws in the 2008 legislative session. The Presidency stated that only four bills were presented to it during the period.

The bill also indicated that no private member bill was presented to the President in 2008 for assent.

The National Assembly amended the law on salaries and allowances of retired public office holders and passed three other laws in 2008. Some of the bills passed by the lawmakers as contained in the bill by Yar’Adua include:

Certain Political and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc) (Amendment) Act, 2008;

Appropriation Act, 2007;

Niger Delta Appropriation Act, 2008;

Appropriation (Amendment) Act, 2008

The Presidency indicted the lawmakers in April 2009 that less than a month to the second anniversary of the administration, the lawmakers have passed only a few bills:

The presidency submitted that the lawmakers in 1999 passed only two laws, which were the supplementary budget bills of that year. The National Assembly passed eight laws in 2000, while it passed four in 2001.

In 2002, the lawmakers passed 11, while the presidency assented to 29 bills in 2003. Twenty one bills were assented to in 2004, and another 21 in 2005, while the lawmakers passed 14 in 2006.


YEAR….Bills Passed ………President

1999………..2………………….Obasanjo (from May 29, 1999)








2007…………0?……………….Obasanjo/Yar’Adua(from May 29, 2007)

2008…………4 ………………..Yar’Adua

2009…………1 ………………..Yar’Adua

10 years….115

Legislative Heads:

Years 1999-2003: Senate Presidents – Evan Enwerem; Chuba Okadigbo; Pius Anyim; House Speakers: Salisu Buhari, Ghali Na’Abba

Years 2003-2007: Senate Presidents – Adolphus Nwabara, Ken Nnamani   House Speaker – Aminu Masari

Year’s 2007- date: Senate President – David Mark, House Speakers – Mercy Etteh, Dimeji Bankole

Clearly the most productive years were of the more vibrant president (Obasanjo), and more mature and stable legislative heads (Anyim, Na’Abba, Nnamani, Masari). 

It is clearly terrible that only 5 bills were passed in 2 years since May 2007?  

What could be responsible for the poor state of affairs and inferior quality representation? Daily Trust suggests that a Faulty and corruption-ridden electoral processes, through which incompetent candidates emerge as winners of fraudulent elections, including those conducted at the political party level, are a major catalyst to the presence of non-vibrant members in the National Assembly.  

Governors and political interest groups manipulate these processes to preclude competent candidates who would give quality representations from either contesting or winning elections, they added. 

The mode of election too is a factor. The governors have pocketed the political process. So, they chose only the candidates they want, to the National Assembly and they do so with the knowledge that these people will one day come and challenge them. So they chose only those who are docile.

A source mentioned a governor who is afraid of any educated person and such a governor will not like someone who is highly educated and intelligent to be in the National Assembly coming from his state.

And what would Nigeria do to these indolent, corrupt and illiterate lootocrats called lawmakers?