N13.5m Senators’ Running Cost not Illegal – Sen. Sabi
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), last Wednesday, put the total monthly entitlement of each senator; including salary and allowances, at N1, 063,860. The commission also said the N13.5m each senator received monthly was alien to law. However, in this interview, Spokesperson of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger), says the money is not illegal. Excerpts:
The RMAFC has said the N13.5m monthly running cost is alien to law. How did the Senate come about it?>>> Where did the commission say so? They didn’t say so; it is you the media, the journalists, that said so and not the commission.
The commission said salary and allowances of each senator stand at N1.06m monthly. Where did you get N13.5m monthly running cost from?>>> There is nothing like interpretation in this context. We all went to school and studied English. What they said is that their Act does not cover running cost.
There is nowhere they mentioned that what we are collecting as running cost is illegal. But you guys made it up and said so.
Automatically, whatever amount that is being spent by the executive as running cost is illegal because salaries are covered by a separate body; the salaries and wages commission. The commission fixes the salaries of all other executive positions; including the civil servants.
However, for political appointees, it is the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) that fixes their salaries and allowances that are personal to them. That’s what they said. They gave you the details and went further to ask people to stop quoting out of context when the facts are there. They said they are not involved in what is called running cost. So where did they say that the running cost is illegal?
How did the Senate arrive at the N13.5m running cost since RMAFC said it was not aware of it?>>> You see, you guys are just being mischievous and you can continue to be mischievous. You are only being mischievous. Please, let’s be reasonable; let’s not abuse the trust people place on us. All of us are constitutionally mandated. As a media person, the constitution recognises you; that is the difference between you and anybody that will come out to write anything or say anything. I called you back because I know there is responsibility on your part and on my part too, not minding the fact that today is a public holiday. This is my family time, yet I’m talking to you on this. I’m saying that you guys are the ones that are making it up.
Can you please lay this issue to rest by explaining how you arrived at this running cost of N13.5m?>>> I’m not answering this question because what you are only trying to do is to accuse me. You guys just believe we are not Nigerians; as such we don’t have any right. Go and ask the executive how they get their overhead cost and how they get money to run their offices.
This is just mischief. I’m a Nigerian and I know my rights. Senators and House of Representatives members are Nigerians and not thugs. We are honourable Nigerians. We are citizens of this great country and we are acting within the law. The commission did not mention anywhere that our running cost is illegal.
As an institution that fixes the salaries and allowances of political office holders, RMAFC said senators are only entitled to N1.06m, where did you get N13.5m from?>>> Out of what they said, it is our entitlements; have we gone above that? I told you I’m not answering that question because whatever we are doing is legal. There is a budget that we operate and it is not for me to come and tell you how. Our budget processes are open and what we are collecting is legal and within the law.