President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has accused the media of instigating the public against federal lawmakers.
Lawan spoke in Abuja, on Monday, at a programme organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS).
Presenting a paper: “Legislature, Legislative Mandate and the People- The Reality and Public Perception”, at the maiden Distinguished Parliamentarians’ Lecture, 2021, the Senator representing Yobe North maintained that the narrative of jumbo pay and expensive cars for legislators was skewed against members of the National Assembly.
He claimed that Nigerians do not raise eyebrows over the lifestyle of Ministers in the Executive arm of government.
He said: “The purchase of vehicles for use of legislators has also received extensive media attention. The argument against the 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?”
The Chairman of the National Assembly also picked a hole in the argument that remuneration of the lawmakers was high as he disclosed that senators are paid N1.5 million and members of the House of Representatives N1.3 million as monthly salaries.
He told the gathering that a senator earns N13 million quarterly to run office expenses.
“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.”
Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari commended the Director-General of NILDS, Professor Suleiman, for the initiative to organise the public lecture and urged him to sustain it.
“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.
In his opening remarks, Professor Suleiman told participants that the biannual event would remain a platform for cross-fertilisation of ideas.