The Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Muhammed Shehu, says that political office holders in Nigeria do not earn as much as their workers in some federal government agencies.
In an interview with journalists on Sunday in Abuja, Mr Shehu said the report that political office holders earned outrageous emoluments was not true.
Nigerians recently condemned reports on a proposed 114 per cent increase in salaries of political office holders by the commission, amid what they described as biting economic hardships in the country.
Mr Shehu described information about the salary increase as not true.
He, however, said that it was the constitutional responsibility of RMAFC to determine and review the salaries of executive, legislative, and judicial officers.
He said that their salaries were last reviewed in 2007.
“From 2008 till date, there has not been a single review.
“Last year, some individuals took the Federal Government to court. These were some activists concerned about the salaries of judicial officers.
“In the court, the judge ruled that a judge should be paid about N10 million a month; that was the court ruling,” he said.
He said that the commission would not contemplate the speculated increase now, considering the prevailing economic challenges faced by Nigerians.
“We are Nigerians; we are not going to start talking about reviewing the salaries of political officeholders now because of the challenges that the government is facing.
“As a commission, we are going to do our work, but we are not going to say we will do it now.
“We will do it when the climate is right, and then we will take it forward to the stakeholders for them to decide on what to do.
“I want to disabuse the minds of Nigerians. It is not true that people are getting jumbo salaries.
“The monthly salary of Mr President is less than N1.5 million; that of a minister is not even up to one million naira.
“I know of an average CBN worker who is not even a director, who earns more than a minister.
“People in the NNPC, NCC, and ports authority earn huge salaries. What is the salary of a governor? What is the salary of a legislator?”
The chairman said that what people considered outrageous earnings by lawmakers were statutory office running costs, which should ordinarily be managed centrally by the National Assembly Service Commission.
“I know some people will say members of the National Assembly get up to 10 million or 11 million monthly.
“Those are not salaries; they are the operating costs of running their offices, which in other societies, the legislator does not have to see because there is a structure.
“Once you get elected, you make that structure from your constituency office to computers to logistics to the size of your constituency.
Mr Shehu said: “Wherever you have a constituency office, the workers you hire, it is the National Assembly Service Commission that is supposed to take care of that.
“But the Nigerian system allows the legislator to be given a certain amount, and then he deals with that and retires the receipts,” the RMAFC chief added.