From Fred Itua, Abuja
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, came hard on critics and the media opposed to the purchase of multi-billion naira vehicles for senators and members of the House of Representatives.
Lawan, who doubles as the chairman of the National Assembly, spoke in Abuja during a programme organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS).
Lawan presented a paper tagged: “The Legislature, Legislative Mandate and the People- The Reality and Public Perception”, at the maiden Distinguished Parliamentarians’ Lecture, 2021.
The Yobe-born lawmaker, who frowned at the wrong perception of the National Assembly, which he claimed was created by the media, queried why less scrutiny is given to the other two arms of Government- Executive and Judiciary.
He said civil servants from an assistant director, are entitled to official cars, but wondered why lawmakers who were elected by the people should be denied such privileges.
He said: “The purchase of vehicles for use of legislators has also received extensive media attention. The argument against purchase of official vehicles for legislators is at best counter-intuitive and at worse malicious and intended to turn the public against lawmakers.
“If civil servants from the rank of an assistant director and above are entitled to official vehicles and some ministers have convoys of cars, why is the allocation of a Toyota Camry for members of the House of Representatives and a Land Cruiser to senators such a hideous proposition?”
Speaking on salaries and other renumerations earned by lawmakers, Lawan claimed that senators are paid N1.5 million and members of the House of Representatives N1.3 million as monthly salaries.
He added that a senator earns N13 million quarterly to run office expenses. Lawan’s position, is however at variance with that of a former senator, Shehu Sani, who in 2018, said senators were paid N13.5 monthly as allowances.
Lawan argued: “The total salary of a member of the Senate is about N1.5 million and that of the House of Representatives member is about N1.3 million. The quarterly office running allowance for legislators is what is erroneously conflated with a monthly income to create confusion and mislead the Nigerian people.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, urged Professor Abubakar Suleiman-led NILDS to sustain the lectures.
“I call on NILDS to ensure that the outcome of the event is well documented circulated. I similarly charge you to ensure that this lecture series is sustained and targeted at addressing key national and constitutional issues in a manner that would strengthen our democracy, eliminate grey areas and enthrone best practices,” he said.
Director-General of NILDS, Professor Suleiman, in his earlier remarks, said the biannual event will create a platform, through which lawmakers and those from other arms of Government can rub minds.
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