NASS says Senators receiving N13.5m is old news

Femi Falana

Sani had revealed in an interview that he and his colleagues each received N13.5 million as "running cost" monthly, while also being entitled to N200 million for constituency projects apart from salaries and allowances.

Former Minister of Education and co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Oby Ezekwesili, has tackled the National Assembly over Senator Shehu Sani's recent disclosure that a member of the Senate receives more than N13million monthly as running cost.

"Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that can not be said to be part of their salaries" Abdullahi said.

Senate Spokesman Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the figure given by Sani are contained in various line items and expenditure heads of the budget of the National Assembly which had been made public.

He did admit that there is no specific instruction on the running cost paid to the Senators. "It was a moral issue", the senator reportedly to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in a chat yesterday.

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Senator Shehu Sani has explained that he blew the lid on the jumbo running allowance being received by senators because he wants such payments to be stopped.

"However, the federal legislators can not be blamed alone for paying themselves skyrocketing salaries and allowances outside the ambit of the wages approved for all political office holders in the country".

The sum is said to be illegal as it is not approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

Mr. Sani's revelation is the first by a lawmaker from the Senate since the clamour by Nigerians for a full disclosure of lawmakers' earnings.

Having discharged a public duty by blowing the whistle on a matter of crucial national importance, all lovers of democracy and public accountability in Nigeria should rally round the Senator by ensuring that he is not harassed for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to freedom of expression.

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