Labour insisted yesterday that federal lawmakers must further cut their N120 billion budget —in line with economic realities.
The Joe Ajaero-led Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) faction said the reduction of the National Assembly’s budget from N150 billion to N120 billion “is too token and not far reaching enough”.
It threatened a mass revolt should the lawmakers and the executive fail to bring down their recurrent expenses.
The faction’s Deputy President, Comrade Issa Aremu, who is also the General Secretary of the Textile Workers Union, advised National Assembly members to appreciate the mood of the nation for leadership sacrifices, resource allocation for national development and common good as opposed to self-help.
He spoke to reporters in Kaduna.
But a House of Representatives member, Mohammed Abdulkadir, said the N120billion is not all for salaries.
Labour said “nations prosper when their leaders are willing to sacrifice; while nations fail when leaders engage in selfish self-help agenda.”
The factional NLC group asked: “Should 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives gulp as much as N120 billion in a year, which is twice the 2015 budget of Ekiti State (N80.774 billion), a state with the population of 2,384,212 people?
“How equitable is it for less than 500 national legislators to gulp N120 billion annually when Osun State with a population of 3,423,535 people and unfunded 2015 Appropriation Bill of N201 billion is yet to pay salaries for seven months?
“Benue State has as many as 4,219,244 people; it budgeted N98.54 billion; Zamfara has 3,259,846 citizens and budgeted N92.80 billion; and Ebonyi, budgeted N80.02 billion for 2,173,501 people.
“The respective budgets of these three states is half of the budget of the National Assembly. How equitable is that?
“There has been illegal and unconstitutional concentration of scarce national resources in the hands of our legislators and Executive office holders alike that must be reversed now.
“For instance, Kano State budgeted N210 billion in 2015. Kano State has 9,383,682 people. The budget per capital of Kano, estimated at N22,379, is miserable, compared to budget per capital of the National Assembly at N293,398,533!
“No country can prosper with this wide and widening gap in resource allocation between the governed and some elected government officials.
“The National Assembly members should take the advantage of the current goodwill of Nigerians in making anamend failing which they provoke mass revolt of the people.
“NLC, therefore, is advocating that the first step is that the National Assembly budget should be reversed to 2003 budget of N50 billion, which will certainly cut the existing budget of the assembly by more than 50 per cent.
It stressed that since 2003, “the number of members remains the same while most of their infrastructural needs have been met. Secondly, the national economy can hardly afford this legislative pay.
“The eighth National Assembly must make a difference. It should be accountable to Nigerian people, just as many Executives have done.
“The eighth Assembly must complement President Muhammadu Buhari in his resolve to cut cost of governance fuelled by corruption, the worse form of which is outrageous pay for public office holders.
“They must emulate governors like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and his deputy who have cut their pay by 50 per cent and urged the Members of the House of Assembly to follow suit.
“Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje also reduced the salaries and allowances of public office holders in the state by 50 per cent.
“Significantly the legislators must reject the Greek allowances Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) generously accorded them. These allowances are unsustainable. They are not based on needs in a depressed economy.
“For instance, why pay legislators who already collected over a million naira wardrobe allowance?
“It will take a minimum wage earner about two years and five months to earn what legislators earn as wardrobe allowance of N506,600.
”The eighth National Assembly should rightly redirect national resources to priority sectors, such as education, health and road construction.
“The assembly must also urgently review the minimum Wage Act of 2010 which, according to the Act, expires next month.
“The Assembly should constitute the Tripartite Statutory Committee based on equal basis between government, organized labour and organized private sector,” it said.