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Nigerians angry about Lawmakers’ ‘shocking’ Monthly Allowance

Members of the Nigerian Senate

LAGOS–––Nigeria, often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, owing to its large population and economy has and continues to remain a nation of mystery and misery. With an estimated 190 million inhabitants, the West African country is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.

It has one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4% according to the Nigeria economic report released in July 2014 by the World Bank. But poverty remains significant at 33.1% in Africa’s biggest economy.  It is a puzzle for a country with massive wealth and a huge population to support commerce, a well-developed economy, and lots of natural resources such as oil, the level of poverty remains unacceptable.

Like most African nations, Nigeria’s single largest problems are rampant corruption, excessive greed, and poor public service governance.

Nigeria’s PDP Senators in Buhari’s party. Each earns $37,000 dollars as monthly allowance in a nation where ordinary families live on less than $2 a day.

This week, a Nigerian Senator, Shehu Sani, who represents the people of the northwestern state of Kaduna, said Senate lawmakers earn about 750,000 nairas a month in wages and an additional monthly “running allowance” of 13.5 million naira which equates to $37,500 United States dollars on the black-market rate of 360 nairas per dollar.

The Senator’s revelation that lawmakers in the upper house of parliament receive about $37,500 each month for personal expenses has incited profuse anger in the West African country, where most people live on less than $2 a day.

Senator Sani’s admission ignited outrage in the Nigeria press and on social media. Globe Afrique’s finding reveals that while the politicians and their associates in Africa’s biggest crude producer continuously benefited from the country’s oil wealth, most of its 190 million inhabitants live in excruciating poverty.

A very corrupt and badly managed country by all standards, the IMF recently said the majority of the people of Nigeria were getting poorer despite the West African state tremendous wealth.

Progressive Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani

Several furious Nigerians at home and abroad say public outrage over the gap between rich and poor could become the major election campaign issue in the coming months.

Incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari, the one-time military ruler who has not disclosed whether he will seek a second term in elections next February, came to power in 2015 vowing to improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians. But so far, his campaign pledge has not gained traction.

said A Nigerian development economist Odilim Enwegbara said, “We must stop our lawmakers being the ones to determine how they are paid.”

A civil servant in Abuja, Usman Mohammed, rebuked the country’s political leaders, saying the money allocated for lawmakers’ expenses was “outrageous.”

“They are supposed not to earn up to that amount of money when people hardly survive,” he said.

Dozens of other Nigerians who spoke on condition of anonymity said their leaders have failed them.

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, is gradually rising from the recession, and Inflation remains in double digits, at 14.3 percent in last February.

While corruption in public service in Nigeria is a known fact, the expense amount disclosed by Senator Sani, regarded as a firebrand politician for tough stance and reputation, who is also an elevated member of President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party, had not never been disclosed before.

“When that light of transparency is cast on all these personalities and offices, then Nigerians will come to know whether it is worth their while to support or sustain the big government as we have now,” Senator Sani said.

In the wake of big salaries by most African lawmakers, there is increased pressure on Western nations and the international communities to stop sending international aid and development support to Africa.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.

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