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9th Senate: 469 lawmakers warm up for N4.68bn as welcome package

It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday pronounced the dissolution of the eighth session of the National Assembly and announced the proclamation of the ninth session of the federal parliament billed to commence on Tuesday, June 11th.

What is news is that four hundred and sixty-nine lawmakers who were elected will get N4.68bn as welcome package immediately after their inauguration.

According to documents of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, accommodation and furniture allowances are two of the irregular entitlements of lawmakers and other political office holders. The RMAFC says while accommodation is paid once every year, furniture allowance is paid once in four years.

Each member of the House of Representatives on resumption, therefore, is entitled to N9.926, 062.5, according to the prescription of the RMAFC in its Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders 2007 to Date.

This is the summation of furniture allowance of N5,955,637.5 and accommodation allowance of N3, 970,425 which a House of Representatives member is entitled to.

Therefore, the 360 lawmakers that will make up the House of Representatives to be inaugurated in June will be entitled to accommodation and furniture allowances of N3.57bn.

On the other hand, each senator is entitled to a combined furniture and accommodation allowance of N10,132,000 on assumption of office. While the accommodation allowance of a senator is N4,052,800, the furniture allowance is N6,079,200.

The 109 senators that will make up the 9th National Assembly will receive a total of N1.1bn when the red chamber opens in June altogether.

For motor vehicles, each of the senators is entitled to N8, 105,600 while each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to N7, 940,850.50.

The allowance for motor vehicles had been controversial in the past. According to RMAFC, this allowance payable once in four years is a loan and is optional. This means that it is repayable.

However, lawmakers that received the payment in the past had been known to ask the government to convert the loan to a grant.

Apart from these irregular allowances, there are other regular perks of office that are paid to lawmakers on a monthly basis. These include motor vehicle maintenance and fuelling. This is pegged at 75 per cent of their monthly salary.

Others are personal assistant – 25 per cent; domestic staff – 75 per cent; entertainment – 30 per cent; utilities – 30 per cent; newspapers/periodicals – 15 per cent; wardrobe – 25 per cent; house maintenance – five per cent; and constituency – 250 per cent.

There are other entitlements that they are not paid to them directly but provided and paid for by the government. These are for their special assistants, security and legislative aides.

What this means is that those in this capacity are paid directly by the government as the allowances cannot be claimed by political office holders. These allowances apply to senators and Reps.

Medical expenses are also borne by the government when they have a need for health services.

The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance, estacode (when they travel) and recess allowances. For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37, 000 per night; the estacode is $950 per night and the recess allowance is 10 per cent of their annual salary.

For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35, 000 per night; the estacode is $900 per night and the recess allowance is 10 per cent of their annual salary.

As it is, the proclamation of the dissolution of the eight National Assembly takes effect from 12 midnight of 8th June, the Ninth National Assembly will be inaugurated and first sitting will be held on Tuesday 11th of June by 10a.m. in the National Assembly complex.

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