New Telegraph

Wrong time to review salaries of political office holders

The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) plans to carry out an upward review of the salaries and perks of political office-holders. The Executive Chairman of RMAFC, Mr Mohammed Bello Shehu made this known while on a courtesy visit to the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal. New Telegraph does not and will not oppose pay rises, when it is reasonably justified given the fact it is a lift into a form of financial and material comfort for Nigerians. But the proposed upward review of salaries and allowances of political office-holders is standing on a wrong premise. The RMAFC is setting out to allocate more funds and other perks to a minority of Nigerians, for whom the public till has been subjected to profound haemorrhage.

The significant amount of money that leaves the public treasury every week or month for the comfort of the public office holders, their families and sea of dependants has contributed immensely to the high cost of governance. Apart from their juicy salaries and multiple allowances some of them also receive extra large sums of money classified as security votes, for which they are not made to account for. We wish to state that a pay rise for political office holders would amount to consolidating their comfort at the expense of the majority. It would result into making a few persons extra-ordinarily happy while deepening the sorrows of a majority of the people.

This discriminatory treatment could create profound disaffection in the country, with the majority unhappy with a nation which has opted to virtually commit all her resources to a privileged few. New Telegraph recalls that the upward review of salaries and other privileges of political office holders were suspended two years ago because of cash crunch.

The liquidity challenge that informed the suspension still persists. Countless questions are even being asked over the rush by RMAFC to up the wages and perks of political office holders while the poor economic situation, caused by past and serving political office holders, persists? Why should the RMAFC increase the salaries and allowances of political office-holders, who have failed to effectively and efficiently manage the economy for almost eight years? Why should persons who have failed to make medical tourism a thing of the past have their wages and perks upped? And why should persons who are constantly looking for national assets to either concession or sell is rewarded with higher wages and additional perks? Why should political office holders who allowed public universities to be shut following the eight month-old strike by the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) due to the failure of the Federal Government (FG) to meet the Union’s demands be rewarded with a pay rise?

The RMAFC that is spearheading a pay rise for political office holders is actually a part of the Executive Branch of Government. The wouldbe beneficiaries of the upward review of the salaries and other privileges are serving members of the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government. It is wrong and indefensible for them to be in office while their personal emoluments are being upwardly reviewed as that would be likened to a person being a judge in his or her matter. New Telegraph therefore advocates that RMAFC should be reorganised and given responsibilities in line with realistic national priorities.

The trend whereby the body goes about fixing the personal emoluments of serving members of the Executive and Legislative Arms of Government should be stopped. All the political office holders should have their wages and allowances determined by the National Incomes, Wages and Salaries Commission (NIWSC) which fixes the personal emoluments of all civil servants. Ideally, it would be proper for political office holders to reject the upward review of the personal emoluments being packaged for them by the RMFAC. Doing otherwise would portray them as being insensitive to the hellish experiences of the populace.

Furthermore, privileges like food supplies, laundry, entertainment and hazard allowances as well as security votes should be reviewed as they constitute a major drain on the public treasury. Since political office holders are paid salaries, they should be encouraged to survive on their wages. And since budgetary provisions are made for the relevant security agencies, it would amount to a frittering away of limited state funds, to continuously place the security votes at the disposal of a few, more so, when it is clear that the beneficiaries are not subjected to any modicum of a transparency and accountability.

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