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Hardship: Lawmakers can’t cut their salaries by half – Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, has said that the salary of the National Assembly members is not as much as…

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, has said that the salary of the National Assembly members is not as much as Nigerians think and 50 per cent of it cannot be sacrificed to mitigate the suffering of the masses.

Amidst the ongoing economic crisis, some Nigerians have urged members of the National Assembly to take a significant step in alleviating the suffering.

One of the calls demanded the lawmakers to cut their salaries by half to demonstrate solidarity with the masses grappling with rising inflation, unemployment, and a general decline in living standards.

Responding to the call during an interview on Channels Television, the Deputy Speaker acknowledged the severity of the crisis and emphasized the need for intervention.

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He also underscored the importance of sound policies that extend beyond mere pronouncements.

Kalu said that delayed gratification is essential for long-term gains, even as Nigerians endure the current hardships.

He assured the public that the 10th National Assembly was not indifferent to their plight, adding that they were prepared to make adjustments where necessary.

He explained that while salaries are fixed and form part of legislators’ compensation, allowances serve specific purposes related to their duties.

He added that spending allowances is strictly regulated, and any misuse can result in sanctions upon retirement.

He also said that contrary to popular belief, the salary of the National Assembly members fell short of public perception, noting that reducing it by 50 per cent would not significantly impact the public.

He said, “If we found out (just like we did during the COVID 19) that people are suffering and we need to intervene, we will make certain sacrifices to be able to identify with the people.

“I can assure you as well that we are not hoping that this crisis we are going through will linger for a very long time because when you have sound policies, it doesn’t end with just policy pronouncement; we need to give a timeline for the maturation of that policy and Nigerians are passing through a phase now in which delayed gratification for a better gain tomorrow is necessary.

“We don’t intend to make it last for too long. But if there’s the need to make some adjustments, I can assure you that the members of the 10th National Assembly are willing to make adjustments.

“But at the moment, talking about the salary of the members of the National Assembly, it’s not as much as people think. Salary is different from allowances, which are meant to do the jobs that the constituencies have sent us to do.

“Nobody is allowed to touch allowances, it’s your salary that belongs to you. Allowances have subheadings for things which they are meant for. If you use it wrongly, when you are retiring, you would be sanctioned for that.

“So talking about the salary of the members of the National Assembly, it’s far from what it’s supposed to be. And I can assure you that if you reduce it by 50%, it would not really impact the public.

“Based on current economic indices and the inflationary rate at the moment, what the members of the National Assembly are receiving cannot actively take them home to do their jobs in their various constituencies. So how could they cut their salaries by half?”

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