Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi says the statements made by his colleague from Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani, on the salaries and funds for running of offices of Senators did not disclose anything new as the figure he gave out about running cost of the offices of Senators were contained in various line items and expenditure heads of the budget of the National Assembly which has been made public.
Abdullahi dismissed any insinuations that Sani’s colleague were unhappy with him and said if people had looked critically at the budget of the National Assembly, which has since been made public, they would have seen that various line items like traveling, medicals, consultancy and the rest were captured in the budget and they were the funds divided for each Senator’s use.
“Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that cannot be said to be part of their salaries”, Abdullahi stated.
Senator Shehu Sani speaking about the alleged bogus salaries and allowances of Nigerian lawmakers and divuluged that every Nigerian Senator gets N13.5 million monthly as running costs and about N200 million as constituency Sani said “I think what we can say is that the running cost of a senator is N13.5 million every month,”
According to him, while there is no specific instruction on what the fund should be used for, lawmakers must provide receipts to back up their expenses from the running costs.
He added that the running cost is in addition to funds earmarked for each senator for constituency projects.
“But what I am saying is that that money (N13.5 million per month) must be receipted for what you do with it. But what you are given to go and spend without any accountability is N750,000.00.
“The constituency project itself is given on a zonal basis and almost every Senator will go with a constituency fund of about N200 million, but it is not the cash that is given to you. “You will be told that you have N200 million with an agency of government for which you will now submit projects equivalent to that amount.
And it is that agency of government that will go and do those projects for you. “Now, the corruption comes when the projects are not done and the money is taken. But right now, it is difficult to do that because NGOs and transparency groups have come into it.
They track every allocation made to you and where they are being used. “So, it’s becoming difficult for what used to happen in the past to happen now.
“But I can tell you that I would love a situation where we do away with running costs, constituency projects and leaves senators and members of House of Reps with salaries. ‘And also, the public should be informed that nobody should come to any senator’s house asking for any kobo. That also would be helpful.
“There are issues that we need to understand. First, I don’t believe that members of the National or even state assemblies should be involved in carrying out what is called constituency projects. “When people are elected into the National Assembly, they should just be involved in law making, raising motions, bills and also performing oversight functions.
But we live in a society where people cannot differentiate between the legislators and the executive. “When the people come to you, they want you to build roads, dig boreholes, build hospitals, schools, give money, pay school fees for them.
Now, if we have a society in which people will stop asking legislators to do those things, then there is no need (for the allowances) But funny enough, if you are very active in the National Assembly in making laws and you don’t embark on projects in your constituency, you cannot in any way be appreciated by the people you are there to serve because the electorates in United States are different from the electorates in the United States and Africa.
“We live in an underdeveloped society with a lot of poverty, misery and wants. What people want is for you to address those basic fundamental issues that affects their lives.
“If we can be done with that, it would be okay. Now, you are talking of bogus salaries and bogus allowances – there are three steps you need to consider – the first has to do with the fact when you represent the people, expectations arose from your immediate and the larger constituencies.
“But I agree with you that the salaries and allowances of lawmakers should not be discreet, but what is discreet about it when you can write to Resource and Fiscal Mobilization Commission to get everything about what a senator earns?.
The only money you are not expected to account for is your salary and the salary of a senator is about N750, 000.00 per month. The other one, the running cost of office must be accounted for. You must provide a receipt for every expense you make.”
Meanwhile, prominent Nigerians and groups yesterday took a swipe at the National Assembly over the N13.5m running cost being paid to senators.
The Campaign for Democracy, senior lawyers, including Mr. Femi Falana, Mr. Yusuf Ali and Prof. Itse Sagay, in separate interviews with newsmen, also commended Senator Shehu Sani for the disclosure.
Sani had, in an interview with newsmen, revealed that each senator received N13.5m monthly as running cost apart from the N700,000 consolidated salary and allowances paid to each of them.
Sagay said Sani’s revelation had vindicated him on his criticism of the lawmakers.
Sagay said. “I’ve always said they earn too much. This figure by Sanni does not include constituency allowances, which is in billions of naira.
“We still have budget padding from which millions are made by them. By the time you put all that together, you can see that these people are collecting a huge chunk of the Nigerian budget.”
The CD, in its reaction, said the N13.5m running cost could employ over 100 graduates in the country.
The CD President, Usman Abdul, in an interview with newsmen, said the huge earnings by the senators contributed to the bastardisation of the economy.
He said, “You can take good care of over 100 graduates from a senator’s salary. The legislature should deliberate on the abject poverty and unemployment in the country.”
Also speaking, Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, said Sani must be commended for his courage.
Ogunye said, “What Senator Shehu Sani said has confirmed the long-held fears of Nigerians that Nigerian legislators, both at the state and national levels, have been short-changing Nigerians.
“They are not expected to use that elevated position to serve their own interest at the expense of public interest. They are not expected to allow their self-consideration to override their commitment to abiding by the law.”
The Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, said Nigerians must demand a review of the lawmakers’ earnings.
Ubani, “It means that Nigerians have not been getting a fair deal from our legislators. If a single person will be earning that kind of money in a country where the minimum wage is N18,000; something has to be done. We need to insist on a review of these jumbo allowances.”
The Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said Nigerians had a right to be displeased because they had not been getting a fair deal from the lawmakers.
Adeniran said, “The outcry wouldn’t have been if the legislators have been living up to the expectation of their constituents. Nigerians don’t see the lawmakers as people who are representing their interest.”
Falana said Sani’s revelation had proved that Nigerian legislators were the highest paid in the world.
Falana, in a statement yesterday, said, “Apart from the monthly package of N13.5m, each senator is given the opportunity to execute constituency projects to the tune of N200m per annum. However, the disclosure made by Senator Sani does not cover the allowances for cars, housing, wardrobe and furniture running to several millions of naira approved for each senator.”
Also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali, said the allowance was insensitive given the state of the economy and the minimum wage of the workers in the country.
He said, “Even if there were no mass unemployment and if the economy were buoyant, suchallowance is totally unrelated to our circumstances; it is very insensitive.”
The Head of Abuja office of Social Action, a non-governmental organisation, Mrs. Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, said the revelation was another sad commentary in the history of political offices emolument in Nigeria.
A former Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mr Rislanudeen Mohammed, said there was no justification for the N13.5m monthly pay.
But the Senate said there was nothing new in what Sani said.
Shell Donates Subsea Training Facilities To UNIPORT
The Nigeria deep-water arm of global energy giant, Shell, has donated multimillion naira laboratory equipment and software packages to the Offshore Technology Institute of the University of Port Harcourt as part of the company’s Nigerian content human capital development programme delivered in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the facilities to the university, last Thursday, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, said, “The donations are aimed at strengthening advanced practical teaching and research in subsea engineering to give the students the required skills and competences for entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry”.
The facilities, valued at over $700,000, are in alignment with the Human Capacity Development Guideline of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Aiboni, represented by SNEPCo’s Social Investment Manager, Dr. Gloria Udoh, expressed optimism that with the level of investment by NNPC and SNEPCo in deep-water training via the establishment centres of excellence and donation of cutting-edge information and communication technology centres, among others, Nigerian oil and gas industry would surpass its local content aspiration earlier than projected.
“This investment anchored on the maintenance of subsea infrastructure on Nigeria’s pioneer deep offshore field, Bonga, is expected to develop and upskill the cognitive and technical abilities of students who pass through the Offshore Technology Institute for the ultimate benefit of our industry and of our country,” Aiboni added.
With the new laboratory and software packages, according to Aiboni, the Offshore Technology Institute is positioned to deliver effective training in engineering design; construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; computer simulations; civil and construction tests; 3D printing/engravement capability; Measurement/Metering Technology and Robotics; Alternative Energy Technologies; and Data Acquisition Learning System.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Onwunari Georgewill, commended NNPC and SNEPCo with its co-venture partners for their goodwill to the university and particularly to OTI, and canvassed more areas of collaboration between the university and its industry partners.
Georgewell said, “This project’s completion is timely because it latches on to the university’s leadership philosophy, which focuses on advancing education through an integrated learning environment to produce industry-ready university graduates and workforce.
“The current administration of the university places a lot of emphasis on university and industry collaboration and partnership. This donation will therefore enhance the achievement of the postgraduate degree-awarding Offshore Technological Institute in the practical context.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, described the human capital initiatives of SNEPCo as commendable.
Wabote added, “I commend your remarkable and consistent collaboration and partnership with the NCDMB towards the development of in-country capacities and capabilities.”
Represented by NCDMB General Manager, Corporate Service and Logistics, Mr Halilu Abdulmalik, Wabote said, “Your Nigerian content initiatives are consistent with the objectives and aspirations of NCDMB’s 10-year strategic roadmap, and we hope that necessary adjustments will be made to the curriculum to ensure optimal utilization by students in the university community.”
Obasanjo, Osinbajo, Wike, Others Bag CAN Awards
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards in Abuja, last weekend.
Others, including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, and Chief Arthur Eze, also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations.
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
“I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said.
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Earlier, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country, advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”
Also, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.
Bandits Free 10 More Kaduna Baptist Students, Keep 11
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, confirmed that 10 more students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State have been released.
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said this in a short WhatsApp message to newsmen.
He said, “Ten more students of Baptist High School were released this afternoon. We have 11 now with bandits.
“We are thanking all Nigerians for their prayers and support.
“We are trusting God that the rest will be released very soon. All have been reunited with their parents.”
Earlier, 10 students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna were released on Saturday, September 18, after spending 74 days captivity of terrorists, with 22 others still being held.
Hayab had said, “10 students were released this (Saturday) evening and have reunited with their parents. We are now hoping for the remaining 21 who are still with the bandits.”
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