Monday, 27 May 2019

'Many Don’t Understand Our Functions' - Ahmed Lawan Defends N13.5m Running Cost

Ahmad Lawan, majority leader of the senate, says the N13.5 million running cost for senators is justified as a result of the nature of their works.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Saturday, the Yobe north senator said the money is seen as “jumpo pay” because many people do not understand the lawmakers’ functions.

Nigerian lawmakers are said to be among the highest paid among their colleagues in the world.

TheCable had reported how the 109 senators earned over N70 billion as running cost — apart from their basic salaries.

Lawan, however, said such funds are needed for the lawmakers to have a “conducive” environment to carry out their work.

“Let me say right from the onset that there is nothing like jumbo pay for lawmakers. As a senator, my take-home is N750,000. The gross is about N1 million but a senator pays a tax of N250,000 every month,” he said.

“But as a senator who has to work for the people, we have the funds that people call our own or allowances. These funds are for us to operate. Sometimes your oversight or other functions take you outside the country.

“I believe that what is paid to members of the national assembly and the senate, the N13 million per month is not given to the senator to put into his pocket and use to buy cars. It’s for that senator to perform his functions.

“Today as a senator, I have five aides. In fact in most cases if a senator is going to move a motion, he writes it himself. In the US, a senator may have maybe a long list of professors on every sector who may be a consultant or a staff.

“And that is why the quality of legislation will naturally be higher where such climate exists. We want to have high quality legislation, so we have to pay for that.”

Lawan also said rather than question the lawmakers’ earnings, Nigerians should be more concerned on their performance.

“I think what should matter to us is to continuously keep our eyes on the performances of members of the national assembly. Where they are not performing, criticise us and ask for value for money,” he added.

“When Nigerians pay that kind of money for a legislator, they should get the best quality of legislation. But I don’t think many people understand the functions of the members of the national assembly or the so called debate. We need to educate Nigerians ourselves on what we do. The money going to the national assembly is always a contentious issue.”

The lawmaker had on Saturday said the national assembly will not become President Muhammadu Buhari’s “rubber stamp” if he is elected senate president.

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