Organised Labour and the Nigerian Bar Association have disagreed with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for saying that members of the National Assembly are not overpaid for the work they do.
They said it was not only disappointing but also appealing for the President to overlook the country’s economic reality and the suffering of Nigerians while justifying the lawmakers’ jumbo pay.
The President of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (Trade Union Side), AbdlRauf Adeniji, in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday, said labour, not the legislature, created a wealth of the nation.
The NBA’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kunle Edun, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said legislators received unrealistic pay that was inconsistent with the state of the economy where the national minimum wage is N30,000 per month.
Buhari had, on Wednesday during the House of Representatives’ launch of The Green Chamber Magazine, a publication by the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said it was wrong for Nigerians to perceive the National Assembly as being “highly overpaid” for doing little.
Buhari had said, “Hitherto, the public perception of the National Assembly is that of a bicameral legislature where overly comfortable and highly-overpaid members merely stuff wads of currency notes into their pockets for little work done. This wrong perception has resulted partly from the lack of understanding of the enormous work of lawmakers, especially outside the glare of television cameras.”
But Adeniji said it was appalling for the President to overlook the suffering of Nigerians and attempt to justify the huge earnings received by the lawmakers in salaries and allowances for doing little and adding no value to the nation’s economy.
He said, “The position of labour is clear on this matter. Nigeria is the only place where lawmakers are being paid jumbo salaries. It does not happen even in the United States or the United Kingdom. Maybe the President is alluding to the fact that all of them (lawmakers and executive) are affected. Those in the executive cadre do not even have a measure for their salaries. They take the money as they like.
“Buhari may be saying what is relative to the executive plan. But there is no comparative basis for him to say that lawmakers are not overpaid. Their allowances alone cannot be compared to any earning in Nigeria. As far as labour is concerned, the payment for lawmakers and those in the executive arm is beyond reach.”
The labour leader described Buhari’s statement as deceitful to Nigerians.