Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:22 pm
President Muhammadu Buhari has rebuked the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission for approving excessive remunerations for some political office holders.
And he has urged the commission to seek a proper interpretation of its powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.
President Buhari made the remark today when the RMAFC chairman and members briefed him in Abuja on the cost of governance in the country.
Excessive payment to political office holders has remained a hot topic in Nigeria, since Buhari assumed power in May and followed up with a voluntary massive reduction in his salary. Expectations that the National Assembly which votes N150 billion yearly for its recurrent expenditure, would take a cue, were dashed as senators vehemently resisted the 30 per cent reduction in their pay package as recommended by an ad-hoc panel set up to address the issue.
Despite the grave poverty in the country, Nigeria’s assemblymen reputedly earn the highest salaries in the world. Ordinarily a senator gets a monthly salary of N1.4 million while his colleague in the House gets N1.1 million a month.But the allowances they received are humongous, far above the markings set by the RMAFC.
For instance, each senator earns N6, 079,200 for furniture. House members get receive N5, 955,637 each for their furniture.
The chairman of the RMAFC, Mr Elias Mbam, said the commission had gone far in the process of downward review of remuneration packages of political office holders and those in the judiciary.
He dismissed the insinuation that members of the National Assembly were individually collecting over one million each month as their pay package.
“What we read on the pages of newspapers is not known to the commission because there is no member of the National Assembly, based on what we determined, that earns up to one million per month.
“We are reviewing the subsisting remuneration packages and it is going to reflect the socio-economic realities of today.
“We expect that before the end of next month, it will be ready. But it will go through a process, it is not something that you will just say yes or no’’, he said.
Oil subsidy Issue
At the meeting, the President also gave the RMAFC the assignment to design a humane way to deal with the oil subsidy issue.
Buhari had blamed past administrations for the current situation in which Nigeria is forced to spend billions of Naira annually on alleged subsidies for petroleum products.
According to him, the escalation of petroleum subsidy payments in recent years was due to the deliberate neglect of the nation’s refineries, oil pipelines and other related infrastructure to allow the importation of petroleum products and corruption to thrive.
The President, who restated his huge disappointment with the way Nigeria’s oil industry has been run since he left office as Petroleum Minister and Military Head of State, said that he was convinced that if the development of the country’s domestic refining capacity and petroleum products distribution network had kept pace with national demand, there would not have been any need for the huge subsidies currently being paid to importers.
“They allowed the infrastructure to collapse so that their cronies can steal by bringing in refined products from overseas,” President Buhari said.
The President urged the chairman and members of the RMAFC, who availed him of their view on the vexed issued of petroleum subsidy payments, to go “back to the drawing board” and come up with more humane proposals to rescue ordinary Nigerians from the “wicked manipulation” of the country’s oil industry by corrupt operators.
The President said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigerian Ports Authority and other MDAs which previously relied on the laws establishing them to retain all or part of revenues collected by them, did so illegally and must now comply with the Nigerian Constitution by paying all revenues to the Federation Account.
President Buhari also warned that severe sanctions will be visited on any individual or organisation that violates the directive on the payment of all national revenue into the Federation Account.