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Nigerian politicians’ astonishing expenses – by Will Ross

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Analysis: Nigerian politicians’ astonishing expenses – by Will Ross, Africa editor, BBC World Service

The National Assembly deliberately made it impossible for Nigerians to learn exactly how much politicians were paid.

For seven years, no budget was published but advocacy groups changed that and some hard to decipher figures were released last year.

It took the outspoken Senator Shehu Sani to lift the lid from the inside.

The salaries, at around $2,000 a month, are relatively modest. But via the back door Nigeria’s senators are receiving some astonishing expense payments for which there is little accountability.

After serving two terms a senator’s expense payments total an eye-watering $3.5m. That is separate from the $500,000 a year that is for constituency projects.

You get a clue as to how some of the money is spent when you visit a senator’s office.

There will always be a queue of people waiting to have a quiet word – often expecting a hand out from the Senator’s deep pockets.

But how much stays in the pockets and how much is paid out – no one knows!

Shock as Nigerian senators pay outs revealed

Nigerians are reacting in shock after it was revealed each senator is given a budget of close to $40,000 (£29,000) a month to be used on expenses of their own choice.

The money is on top of a salary of more than $2,000 a month – not to mention a yearly constituency budget of $500,000.

Nigeria’s minimum wage, meanwhile, is just $50 a month.

Senator Shehu Sani, a governing party politician who revealed the figures, is calling for the scrapping of the payments, saying they were a key reason why many people went into politics.

Civil society groups in Nigeria have welcomed his decision to reveal how much they were receiving each month.

Meanwhile, on social media everyday Nigerians – who, up until now, had little hope of discovering the financial arrangements of their MPs – are venting their anger.

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