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POSERS ON LAWMAKERS JUMBO SALARIES

By: ISAAC ASABOR
 Published December 2nd, 2010

Permit me a space in your widely read newspaper to ask some nagging Questions on the jumbo salaries which our legislators are currently enjoying. I am not an economist but with my little knowledge in economics I know the factors that determine the fixing of wages. Permit me to say that my questions would emanate from the knowledge I gained on the factors that determine the fixing of wages or salaries.

One of the factors that affect the fixing of wages or salaries are, length of training, skills, demand and supply, laws and negotiations, working time and so on and so so forth. Given the first factor, as stated above, I am quite certain that non of the law makers spent 10 years in the university studying for a first degree. If there is , that may be his fault as a result of unseriousness, laziness and truancy. On the other hand, I do not think there is any first degree programme in our universities, both in the past and present that has more than 5 years duration of study, except it is a professional degree, such as Architecture, that terminates at Masters level.

Secondly, skills and academic qualifications put together is also a strong force that can influence the level of wages. How many of our lawmakers posses doctorate degree (Phd) in their area of specializations? Without conducting any research, I can swear that no doctorate degree holder in any of our public institution is earning above N10m.

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Therefore, my first poser is, what are the rationale behind a national legislator in Nigeria earning more than N10m per month? Another determinant of level of wages is demand and supply. Drawing my question from this factor, one can categorically opine that the forces of demand and supply can be ruled out from this issue of jumbo pay. I stand to be corrected because I am not an economist. However, I may not be wrong to say that the demand for a Politician to rule or occupy a political office is not high. It is the Politicians that are forcing theirselves on us (the electorates). We all know the number of elections that have been upturned or annulled across the nation in the last two years.

In terms of supply, anybody can be a Politician. After all, we have seen Motor Park touts contest for elections and win. On the factors of laws and negotiations, I can boldly say that the proposal (s) that won this controversial jumbo salaries for our lawmakers never passed though any iota of due process. How on earth can a worker ( or a politician in this case) be earning more than N10m on monthly basis whereas labour activists are busy declaring a 3-day warning strike for just N18,000 minimum wage? Even the most hardworking and investment-driven entrepreneur may not earn as much as N10m per month as salary. For God sake, how can a worker be earning more than N10m merely for talking or saying yea or nay on an issue. What actually are the factors put into consideration for a lawmaker to be earning above N10m per month? In my own thinking, I said to myself “ Could it be because they can talk, argue and sometimes fight while making laws?”. I could not find an answer to the foregoing question, but I know some of them do yawn intermittently or sleep when lawmaking is in session.

Another question that flashed through my mind also is “Could it be that the Legislators got their jumbo salaries with the permission of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC)?”. Permit me to say that the minimum wage of N18,000 placed side-by-side with the “maximum wage” of N10m looks like a grain of sand compared with a trailer-load of sand. Again, I do not know how often Legislators meet in Abuja. But I know they do not work like an average Nigerian who work from 8.00am to 5.00pm. Some of us in Lagos leave our various homes at 5.30am only to meet our families at 9.00apm amidst heavy vehicular traffic at the close of work. I know our Lawmakers do not pass through any traffic-induced stress. Or working in their offices longer than necessary. So, on what basis are they earning what I may term outrageous and scandalous salaries and allowances?

In concluding this piece, I would suggest that the issue of lawmakers jumbo salaries be thrown up for public debate in the same manner we debated whether or not to take IMF loan in 1985. Secondly, I am suggesting that the appropriate authority should conduct an investigation to know whether the proposal (s) that led to Lawmakers jumbo salaries and allowances passed through the expected due process before approval by RMAFC officials. Finally, the officials of RMAFC that approved this unimaginable salaries and allowances for Legislator should be made to explain to Nigerians the criteria he used in endorsing such salary.

Yours faithfully,

ISAAC ASABOR

27/29, Adeyemo Alakija Street,

Victoria Island.

Tel: 08057019751




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