Friday, August 22, 2008

Becoming a millionaire has never been easier. In Nigeria, the quickest way to become a millionaire is not to marry rich, but to simply become a member of the National Assembly. Despite my recent suggestion that lawmakers follow the example of the Ivory Coast and take a pay cut, Nigeria's legislators have increased their pay by over 100%. According to news reports,

"the basic salary of a Senator has increased from N993,697 to N2,484,242.50, while that of a member of the House of Representatives has been jerked up from previous annual salary of N794,084 to N1,985,212.50."
As such, a Senator will now receive approximately $21,000 plus a wardrobe allowance, a newspaper allowance and an additional assortment of incredible perks. A member of the House of Representatives will in turn receive approximately $16,800 and their own set of allowances and perks. Nevertheless, these individuals are all millionaires in Nigeria's currency, the Naira.

Now, that might not seem like an exorbitant amount to some, but please consider that according to the United Nations and the World Bank, over 9 out of 10 Nigerians live on less than $2 a day. Therefore, the majority of Nigerians are dirt poor! It is therefore ridiculous that those with the responsibility to work for the masses are becoming millionaires off the poverty of their constituents.
When I last discussed whether or not Yar'Adua should receive a pay hike, reader, Ade, responded in the comments,
"If we want to attract decent candidates for public office, we need to move towards paying them a decent salary - nothing outrageous just decent - look at what is paid to parliamentarians in the Europe and America....."
I understood Ade's line of thinking then and now. However, I see things a little differently and believe that this view is not applicable to the current leadership in Nigeria. For the 'representatives of the people' to have not introduced comparable legislation to increase the living wages of their constituents is purely unconscionable. Nigerians don't even have access to regular power supply. They have to deal with the reality that food is extremely expensive. Their children's teachers are on strike and of course, they face a constant lack of security, but yet their elected representatives are now millionaires. Even Imnakoya goes as far as to state what many are thinking -
"I would have no qualms if those law makers are the true representatives of the people. But they are not."[sic]
Alas, I share his opinion on this one. This simply confirms the growing argument that Nigeria does not have leaders with the people's interest at heart or even on their mind. These men and women are not worthy of this pay hike and unfortunately, they will bathe themselves in the lap of undeserved luxury, nonetheless.

* - For currency conversion, I used Coin Mill and the conversions were done on Thursday, August 21, 2008.

Hattip to Imnakoya. 

Further Reading:
- Look To The Ivory Coast For Inspiration
- Should Yar'Adua Get A Pay Raise?

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durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Solomonsydelle,

This is an abomination. How can they even think of giving themselves a raise when the people they supposedly represent are in dire straits? And it's not even a small adjustment, 100% at that! Isn't this reflective of living off the suffering of the marginalized citizens? It only lends credence to the notion that they truly are not the real representatives, perhaps they are the represent-a-thieves of Nigeria.

Politicians are a different breed. They seem to be always wanting to be above the people they serve, as if their perceived wealth will make them more believable to their constituents. Their constituents would only believe that they enriched themselves at the people's expense! What accomplishment can they show to deserve this pay hike? The people are still suffering and no improvement in their lives - even by way of hope - could be felt?

It could also mirror the extent of corruption in the country. If politicians, who are aware of then machinations in government, can so blatantly act with impunity as to increase their salaries legally - they must be in the know of grander acts of thievery in its most illegal sense. Despite the increase, they are within the legal umbrella and therefore morally above those who operate clandestinely.

I'm saddened by such developments in your country. There is so much at stake and Nigeria held so much hope for an emergent African Nation. I hope your President chooses the right path for his countrymen. :-) --Durano, done!

Akin said...


Isn't this what distorts political representation if the ruling class as it were is so separated from the people it represents in means, privilege, access and favour?

It is the same reason why people fight to the death to be in office because there is no other rewarding part of our economy that offers the emoluments that being in the political line of business offers.

It is therefore not surprising that the fight against vices that impede progress is stunted, lacking in vision and looking like a pendulum vendetta depending on whose side you are on and whether you are in favour or not.

More importantly, these kinds of rewards leave more scope for in-fighting rather than legislation and oversight - it is an indictment of our democracy and the yawning gap between leadership and follower-ship.

I worry, really worry about what this means for Nigeria.




@ Durano: "Representa-thieves"!!!!

Oh my, you hit the nail on the head. I don't think I should say anymore, but as always your opinion encourages further conversation. Yes, this is thievery of the legal kind and unfortunately no one would bat an eye. IT wouldn't surprise me if a poll of many Nigerians would reveal that they aren't surprised and that they don't particularly care.

I keep my fingers crossed for Nigeria. I can't help it and I can't help but believe that good will overcome but it's getting pretty hard, I'll say.

Thanks for swinging by!

@ Akin: As always it is always exciting to see you around these parts. The scenario you depict is Nigeria down to a 'T'. Is there any end in sight? I don't know. Like you, I cannot help but worry. What is even worse is the fact that we Nigerians are so beaten down and can't even find the strength to really question such actions and demand a reversal. I am not judging Nigerians, most are too busy struggling to survive to care about dealing with such madness and the others are too busy defending the status quo from which they benefit.

Only time will tell, but I know for a fact that until we wake up and smell the roses and until the powers that be realize that a Nigeria where all have access to the incredible wealth that is in the hands of the few, we spell nothing but eventual doom for our children.

Oh, and now, they are 'claiming' a coup attempt. My post on that comes out on Monday. I hope to see your perspective on the issue at your site and even your thoughts on my take over here.

Thanks for stopping by.

naijalines said...

I share your views on this. Politicians should not make one law for themselves and another for the masses.

Standtall said...

I really dont think our so called leaders are there for the interest of the masses. They are simply there to grab all the national cakes they can grab. Nothing surprises me any more.

They are serving there pockets. What they are now earning goes beyond something decent. Public officers made rich if you ask me!!!

wellsbaba said...

word is they increased their "legal" pay bcos they cant make more money from "illegal" pay bcos EFCC is now on their trail...

TheAfroBeat said...

A newspaper allowance??? pray tell, what in the world that is for? As NUT continues to go on strike demanding pay rises and our children's education is compromised as a result, senators are increasing their newspaper allowances?? We really are in trouble.

imnakoya said...

In the last two days, I got a deeper insight into the mess in Nigeria via a visiting Naija-based friend. Boy, I thought I was in the loop until I listened to him make some revelations. I can tell you that we in the Diaspora have no idea how bad the sleaze is in Nigeria.

From the round-tripping in the big banks, to the influence of IBB on Yar A’dua, I have realized what we read in the news media and discuss on our blogs and forum is a tip of the iceberg.

Thanks for the plug!

Anonymous said...

If the Lawmakers claim such pays are comparative to what obtains in European parliaments, then let them also compare the minimum wage of civil servants in Europe with that of Nigeria, afterall what is good for the geese is also good for the gander;increase civil servants pay as well.

Lucky N. Chinemere


@ Lucky: Amen!

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate things like Fox News, and CNMBC.. Lets tell the truth this type of commentative news keep politicians in Check. Well I guess people are not scared to die in America when they put the president on check on National TV. I think the Media needs to grow some balls and start calling people out daily.. YOu know who they blamed for invading Iraq besides Bush, the media for not digging deep. What is the Nigerian Journalist groups doing?

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