For some time now, the pay package of members of Nigeria’s National Assembly has been one of the most discussed topics in the country’s political sphere. The package made of salaries and allowances has been termed “jumbo pay” by lots of Nigerians and with that, it has been insinuated that an elective post in the National Assembly is one of the most lucrative jobs in Nigeria.
Members’ salaries and constituency allowances make one question postulations that Nigeria’s economy is not in good shape as each lawmaker is entitled to amounts running into hundreds of millions of Naira.
Incidentally, it could barely be said that the work being done by the members of the legislature is commensurate with the amount of work they do. It is has also been observed that a large percentage of lawmakers are not present at sittings. A look at the Senate and Hose of Representatives’ chambers on normal sitting days often reveal lots of empty seats.
Though Section 63 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that “the Senate and the House of Representatives shall each sit for a period of not less than one hundred and eighty-one days in a year.” What seems to be a clear breach has been observed. For instance, in the last one year, the Senate sat for a total of 100 days in the year 2012 while Senators were on break for about 158 days. Their colleagues in the House of Representatives held plenary sessions for 107 days and spent 140 days resting in 2012.
According to the regulations of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Reps,plenary sessions are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays while committee sessions are held everyday. After the first legislative year which runs from June to June, House of Representatives’ members went on a two-month annual vacation.
For Easter, the House took two weeks break after which they took another two weeks for “Constituency Outreach”. Another 19 days were taken off for Eid el Kabir celebrations while for Christmas and New Year, the House took a 21-day break. The situation is almost similar in the Senate as they took the end of the year break the same time as the House of Reps. There are also some other holidays that are normally observed, one of them was the 13-day break the House took to mark the first anniversary of the inauguration of the 7th House of Reps. Last year, the annual vacation of Nigeria’s reps ran from July to September and it lasted 62 days!
Findings have also shown that a good number of the lawmakers ars spend more time outside the Federal Capital Territory than they do within it. Some are already preparing for the 2015 elections already while many of those who stay in Abuja are merely extending their business frontiers.