Despite Huge Pay, Senators, Reps, Fleece Aides

Despite receiving huge pays in salaries and allowances, many senators and House of Representatives members engage in underhand deals by diverting funds meant to hire aides, and shortchanging personal staff in what is due to them, an investigation by Daily Trust has revealed.

While there is no official disclosure on the salaries and emoluments of members of the National Assembly, Nigerian lawmakers are believed to be among the highest-paid in the world.

In 2018, then serving senator, Shehu Sani disclosed that each senator was being paid N13.5 million as a running cost, in addition to N750,000 salary.

Last year, a member of the House of Representatives, Simon Karu, told a public gathering that each member of the House officially receives N8.5 million in running cost, aside from N800,000 in salary.

It was learned that a sizable percentage of the 2,345 statutory legislative aides are either sitting in for children or spouses of lawmakers – who receive the actual pay – or pay a kickback of up to 50 percent of their official salaries to the persons who hired them.

Each of the 469 lawmakers – 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives – is entitled to five aides; a senior legislative aide, legislative assistant, personal assistant, constituency officer, and a secretary.

For the position of a senior legislative aide are typically required to higher persons with a graduate degree and cognate experience who could be placed at up to level 15, or equivalence of a deputy director in the civil service.

The presiding officers of the National Assembly, the Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President, and the Deputy Speaker are at the liberty to engage an unlimited number of aides, in a discretionary manner. This category of aides, who are in their hundreds, are largely nominal, with no office or official functions attached to them.

The legislative aides, Daily Trust reports, are recruited by the National Assembly Service Commission on the recommendation of individual lawmakers.

Their salaries and other entitlements are catered for by the National Assembly management through bank accounts provided by the aides.

While many lawmakers would not discourse the issue with our reporters, at least two former members, and many aides confirmed the practice, with gripping details.

Checks by our reporters showed that the most affected of the five categories of aides are the secretaries. Most of them statutorily earn about N100,000, but half of it is often remitted back to their bosses.

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