The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is unaware of lawmakers’ jumbo pay.
Its Chairman Elias Mbam said yesterday that no senator or House of Representatives member should earn more than N1m monthly, going by the recommendations of the commission, which fixes salaries and wages for public officers.
Mbam spoke to reporters at the State House in Abuja after a meeting of the RMAFC with President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, a new pay structure that will reflect the economic realities will be proposed next month for all categories of public officers.
Although President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have slashed their salaries by 50 per cent, federal lawmakers have expressed disinterest in cutting their pay.
But Mbam told reporters yesterday that if the lawmakers’ salaries are cut by the RMAFC after the review, they must abide by the decision.
“They do not have a choice; we are guided by the Constitution and we are going to be guided by such laws that are provided for in the Constitution and the oath they swore to obey the laws of the country.
“We are currently reviewing the subsisting remuneration packages and it is going to reflect the socio-economic realities of today.
On when a new package will be ready, Mbam said: “We expect that before the end of next month it will be ready. But it will go through a process. It is not something that you will just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It will go through a process and it should be obvious to you the economic realities of the day and it is going to reflect that.
“Recently, the oil price dropped. Many government agencies, the states and local governments have not been able to pay their salaries. These are some of the issues that made it necessary to review it.
“It did not start with this administration; we started the review as far back as last year. It is not because of the present administration that we commenced it.”
He spoke of the President’s advice “to ensure that we use all legitimate means to make all public office holders take home the remuneration as determined by the Commission and ensure that leakages are blocked and we try to expand the size of the cake”.
On revenue sharing formula, Mbam said a draft copy is ready but needed the approval of several authorities before a final copy is released.
“I do not want to give a definite date because it is beyond my control. I do not determine when the process will be concluded but as far as the Commission is concerned, we have concluded our work and announced to the general public that we have a draft.
“But you know it goes through a process before it finally becomes a law,” he said
A statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on (Media and Publicity), Mallam Garba Shehu, on the meeting said President Buhari blamed past administrations for the situation in which Nigeria is forced to spend billions of naira annually on alleged subsidies for petroleum products.
Shehu quoted the president as saying that the escalation of petroleum subsidy payments over the recent years was due to the deliberate neglect of the nation’s refineries, oil pipelines and other related infrastructure in order to allow the importation of petroleum products and for corruption to thrive.
The President restated his huge disappointment with the way Nigeria’s oil industry has been run since he left office as Petroleum Minister and Military Head of State. He said he was convinced that if the development of the country’s domestic refining capacity and petroleum products distribution network had kept pace with national demand, there would not have been any need for the huge subsidies being paid to importers.
“They allowed the infrastructure to collapse so that their cronies can steal by bringing in refined products from overseas,” Buhari said.
The President urged the chairman and members of the RMAFC, who availed him of their view on the vexed issued of petroleum subsidy payments, to go “back to the drawing board” and come up with more humane proposals to rescue ordinary Nigerians from the “wicked manipulation” of the country’s oil industry by corrupt operators.
Buhari also warned that severe sanctions will be visited on any individual or organisation that violates the directive on the payment of all national revenue into the Federation Account.
He said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other MDAs which previously relied on the laws establishing them to retain all or part of revenues collected by them, did so illegally and must now comply with the Constitution by paying all revenues to the Federation Account.
Buhari also chided the RMAFC for approving excessive remunerations for some political office holders and urged the commission to seek a proper interpretation of its powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.
Mbam disowned media reports of the salaries and remuneration running into several millions of naira being paid to National Assembly members.
According to some of the reports, the federal lawmakers are earning as much as N4 million every month.
But Mbam said that no member of the National Assembly should receive more than N1 million as salary going by the calculations of the Commission which have been published on its website.
He said “We have done a lot in informing the general public on the true position of the renumeration packages.
“First and foremost, it is on our website. It is clearly written there and we have had course to publish these renumeration packages severally in many national dailies.
“We have also had interactions with press at different fora where we explained what the commission had determined.
“What we read on the pages of newspapers is not known to the Commission because there is no member of the National Assembly, based on what we determined, that should earn up to N1million per month.
“We are currently reviewing the subsisting renumeration packages and it is going to reflect the socio-economic realities of today.”
He said the foremost challenge of the Commission is improper funding and that it deserves financial autonomy so that it can benefit from the advantage of federal government’s first line charge.
Mbam also demanded for powers of enforcement and sanction for the RMAFC to enable it fully implement its mandate to fix the salaries and emoluments of allý elected and appointed public officials, including in the judiciary, at all tiers of government.
He said: “One of the challenges is that the commission is not properly funded and we are saying that we expect that the Commission should be one of the agencies of government that should have financial autonomy. The best way to do that is to include it as one of the agencies that will benefit from first line charge.
“The second is to give the Commission the power of enforcement. They should review the Act establishing the Commission so that it can have power of enforcement and sanctions on any of the defaulting Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).”