A Nigerian lawmaker has said that N8.5 million being received monthly by members of the Federal House of Representatives as running cost is insufficient.
Oluwole Oke, who represents Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun State, in an interview, told the PUNCH Newspaper.
The lawmaker, however, explained that the running cost is different from the N606,000 he earns as monthly salary as a federal lawmaker.
But comparing the amount Oke declared insufficient, a civil servant on the N30,000 minimum wage will have to work for 24 years to earn what a House of Representatives member earns as running cost monthly.
And on a similar note, it is more damning if compared with senators who earn N13.5 million monthly as running cost. A civil servant on the minimum wage would have to work for 37 years to earn what a senator earns monthly.
It should be recalled that the N30,000 minimum wage only came into place in April. Before then, the minimum wage was N18,000.
Despite the huge discrepancy between what lawmakers earn and what other public officials earn, Oke still insists their monthly running cost is too low.
“How much is N8.5 million to me as a person?” he said.
“If you have to embark on research, looking at all the bills that I have sponsored in the House, you will see that those bills that I sponsored are not ones you can just come by anyhow.
“They are not bills that you pick on the shelve.
“I remember when I promoted the National Pension Commission Act, it took me out to Chile and other countries like Argentina, the United Kingdom and India.”
“If you give me N8.5 million and I have to go and find out what is happening aside from the information that I get from the Internet.”
“Look at the tickets and see the flight costs even if I am flying economy class. So, how much is that?”
“If I have to engage lawyers and professionals to prepare bills for me, to work on motions for me; and get researchers also,” he said.
However, hiring legislative aides such as research assistants is taken care of separately. Each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to at least five aides paid by the government monthly. Presiding officers are entitled to more aides.
Oke then made claims about the pay of U.S. lawmakers.
“Do you know how much their running costs are? It is $1 million. Do you know how much their salary is? It is $14,000 per month. Yet, you pay me $2,000 as salary,” he said.
In further justifying the running costs, Oke alluded to the societal pressure on lawmakers.
“Besides whatever you get here in the form of salary or allowances, you have constituents with their numerous problems waiting (for you). Do you know how many scholarships and school fees that I am responsible for?
“Do you know how many constituents of mine who are ill; people who want to put to bed, people who have to undergo operations (surgeries) or need support? Do you know how many community projects that I have to support or celebrations and events that I have to support.”