Muhammad Shehu, the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), announced that the salaries of politicians, judicial officials, and public officeholders would be increased by 114 percent.
Shehu made this statement while presenting the reviewed remuneration package reports to Kebbi State Governor Nasir Idris, as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.
However, this decision has faced criticism from civil society organizations (CSOs), a law lecturer, and Senator Shehu Sani, who argued that it is the ordinary workers with meager salaries who truly deserve a wage increment, not the politicians.
Representing the RMAFC Chairman, federal commissioner Rakiya Tanko-Ayuba stated that the implementation of the reviewed remuneration packages would be effective from January 1, 2023.
This action is in accordance with the provision of paragraph 32(d) of part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Government (as amended).
Tanko-Ayuba advised the state Houses of Assembly to promptly amend relevant laws to facilitate the upward revision of income packages for political, judicial, and public officials. She highlighted that the last remuneration review was conducted in 2007, resulting in the enactment of the “certain political, public and judicial office holders (salaries and allowances, etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008.”
Tanko-Ayuba said: “Sixteen years after the last review, it is imperative that the remuneration packages for the categories of the office holders mentioned in relevant sections of the 1999 constitution (as amended) be reviewed.
Contrary to his boss’s statement regarding a 114 percent salary increase for the President and other public office holders, the commission’s spokesperson, Mr. Chris Chukwu, refuted the claim.
“There is a process that must be followed for such salary review. That process has not been undertaken,” he explained.
He explained that the commission’s role in reviewing the salaries of public officeholders is limited to making recommendations, which are then forwarded to the President for submission to the National Assembly as a bill. Once the bill is passed, it would require the President’s signature to become law and initiate the salary review.
CSO Opposes Salary Increment for Elected Officials
In response to the recent development, civil society organizations voiced their strong opposition. They expressed concerns about the potential impact on the country’s economic stability and social inequality, believing that the proposed salary increase could worsen existing issues.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Head of Transparency International (Nigeria), described the increase as “unjustifiable.”
“They are already being overpaid. The country’s resources cannot sustain the salary increases,” Musa said.
Additionally, Musa emphasized that the salary increase was unjust to other workers and professionals, including teachers, doctors, engineers, and lawyers, who make substantial contributions to Nigeria’s development.
Musa further cautioned that the proposed salary hike would exacerbate inequality and disparity among Nigerians and potentially lead to increased political violence.
In a separate exclusive interview with Vanguard, Dr. Zikirullahi Ibrahim, the Executive Director of the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), voiced criticism of the decision made by the current administration.
“If the current government was acting in good faith, its primary concern would be how to lift over 133 million Nigerians out of multidimensional poverty,” Dr. Ibrahim said.
Mr. Gbenga Ojo, a law lecturer, expressed his view on the matter, describing the development as absurd.
He said:” The civil servants who are the engine rooms of their various ministries and by extension of the government, despite the galloping inflation and increase in the prices of fuel and other attendant consequences on the cost of living across the board, are not enjoying such a privilege.
” Cost of electricity is also on the increase. Middle-class will go into extinction. The decision, unless it cuts across, is immoral and indefensible.
” What of teachers, lecturers, or doctors? Well, let’s wait and see the consequences of all these actions. Civil servants will collect taxes etc., and political office holders will take the money, difficult to understand.”
Senator Shehu Sani, in a statement posted on his verified Twitter account, expressed his opinion on the matter. He emphasized that increasing the minimum wage for low-income workers should take priority over raising the salaries of elite public officeholders.
” With this 114 percent increase, a federal legislator will earn about a N2million monthly salary and N25million monthly running cost for his office. Money derived from the removal of subsidy should be spent wisely.”