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Nigerians deserve to know how much Senators earn – SERAP

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has challenged the senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki to disclose to Nigerians, the amount each senator earns for the sake of transparency and accountability in the system.

The body made the call in reaction to a claim by Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), , saying Senators get as much as N29 million monthly.

However, in its reaction to the accusation by Prof. Sagay, the Senate through its Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi has insisted that the senate would not disclose salaries of its members.

In a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale , the body said, “The ‘sky will not fall’ if details of a Nigerian Senator’s salaries and allowances are published on a dedicated website.”

“SERAP believes that releasing the information on salaries and allowances of members of the Senate would encourage a nuanced, evidence-based public debate on what would or should be a fair salary for a member of the Senate.”

“It is by making transparency a guiding principle of the National Assembly that the Senate can regain the support of their constituents and public trust, and contribute to ending the country’s damaging reputation for corruption.

“Transparency is a fundamental attribute of democracy, a norm of human rights, a tool to promote political and economic prosperity and to curb corruption. For the Senate, practising transparency should start with the leadership being open to Nigerians on the salaries and allowances of members.

“SERAP strongly believes that it is by knowing exactly how much their lawmakers earn as salaries and allowances that members of the National Assembly can remain accountable to Nigerians and our citizens can be assured that neither fraud nor government waste is concealed.”

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“If the Senate under your leadership is committed to serving the public interest, it should reaffirm its commitment to openness by urgently publishing details of salaries and allowances of members. But when the Senate leadership routinely denies access to information on matters as basic as salaries and allowances of our lawmakers because some exceptions or other privileges override a constitutional and statutory disclosure requirement, open government would seem more like a distant, deferred ideal than an existing practice.”

“The continuing refusal by the Senate to reveal concrete information about the salaries and allowances of their leadership and members could ultimately endanger the healthy development of a rule-of-law state.

SERAP is concerned that the Senate seems to consider releasing concrete information about salaries and allowances of members to be at best a burden and, at worst, a threat to their legislative functions. Releasing information on your salaries and allowances would not interfere with your law-making functions. In fact, doing so would improve public confidence in the ability and legitimacy of the Senate to perform those functions and make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation.”

“By permitting access to information on your members’ salaries and allowances long shielded unnecessarily from public view, the Senate would be moving towards securing the confidence of Nigerians in the legislature. The Senate would also be establishing a more solid political base from which to perform its legislative duties and to fulfill its role in the balance of power within the Nigerian constitutional order.

“Transparency is necessary for accountability, and helps to promote impartiality by suppressing self-interested official behavior. It also enables the free flow of information among public agencies and private individuals, allowing input, review, and criticism of government action, and thereby increases the quality of governance.”

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