…Speaker asks agency to explain salary, allowances of legislators to public
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) of the support of the legislature in strengthening the delivery of its core mandate of mobilising revenue for the government.
Gbajabiamila stated that since no country could go far in terms of development without revenue, it was the priority of the House to ensure that RMAFC performed its duties optimally.
Gbajabiamila, who spoke on Thursday in Abuja when he received a delegation from the commission at the National Assembly, cited the ongoing amendment of the 1999 Constitution and other relevant laws to not only strengthen RMAFC but also expand the scope of revenue available to the three tiers of government as an example.
The delegation was led by the chairman of the commission, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Shehu.
“It is revenue that takes a country from point to point; for any country that wants to grow, revenue is key to nation-building.
“That is why RMAFC is an essential component of the government in this country,” Gbajabiamila stated.
The Speaker said the National Assembly made a lot of amendments in the ongoing constitution review to improve the work of the RMAFC, including new allocations to tiers of government.
However, he noted that much of the new changes depended on how soon the 36 states voted on the amendments now pending before them.
Gbajabiamila told the visitors that everyone, including President Muhammadu Buhari, was waiting for the states to turn in their report on the amendments before any further actions could be taken by the government.
He said, “There are issues about the exclusive and concurrent lists, which you mentioned; how we are going to allocate revenue and all that.
“Well, it’s before the states and we are waiting for them. We will put pressure on them and ensure we achieve it. Mr President has said that it is the only thing he is waiting for.”
Gbajabiamila, who advised RMAFC to build a central monitoring platform to monitor revenue movements in all government revenue-generating agencies, asked the commission to submit a detailed proposal on its needs to enable the House to work on it speedily.
The Speaker also seized the opportunity of the visit to call on RMAFC to consider enlightening Nigerians on the distinction between the salary and allowances of legislators.
He observed that the controversy over the pay of lawmakers and making it a public debate all the time was caused by the lumping of the salaries and allowances of lawmakers together.
According to Gbajabiamila, allowances are tied to sundry duties or work of the office of a lawmaker like maintaining a constituency office, while the salary is the actual pay he earns as a legislator.
“You need to explain to the public the difference between salary and allowances. A lot of people lump them together and call them our take-home package. Salary is different and allowances are meant for many other issues.
“This explanation should be part of what you are working on right now regarding the judiciary and political office holders”, he added.
Speaking earlier, Shehu appealed to the Speaker to do all within his good office to ensure that a new constitution and other legislation that could help RMAFC perform better were concluded timely.
He also appealed for more funding for the commission through alternative sources outside the statutory allocation by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Shehu, who complained that big revenue agencies barely tolerated the commission by providing limited information on their revenue performance, urged the National Assembly to further empower RMAFC through the review of its laws, among other legislative interventions.
Signed:Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.