The Nigerian Senate has said the N13.5 million running cost allowance being paid to its members monthly has never been hidden from the public.
Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna central, had in a recent interview, confirmed that each in the 91-member senate receives N13.5 million monthly as 'running cost ' apart from their official consolidated salary of N750,000.00 per month.
The revelation by the senator confirmed speculations in the media that the lawmakers in the upper chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly receive N41.5million each quarterly as running cost.
Many Nigerians have described the allowance as illegal since it was not approved by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the government agency responsible for setting of remunerations of public servants in Nigeria.
Lagos lawyer and activist, Barrister Femi Falana (SAN) in a statement on Sunday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the stoppage of the illegal allowance. The lawyer also said the revelation confirmed claims that Nigerian lawmakers are among the highest paid in the world.
But defending the lawmakers against rising outrage over the revelation of the obscene allowance on Sunday, Aliyu Abdullahi, spokesperson the Senate spokesman, said in a statement that the monthly payment to lawmakers was never hidden from the public.
According to him, the allowance was well itemized in the budget of the National Assembly that has been made public.
He said: “If people had looked critically at the budget of the National Assembly which has since been made public, they would have seen that various line items like traveling, medicals, consultancy and the rest were captured in the budget and they were the funds divided for each Senator’s use.
“Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices and that cannot be said to be part of their salaries."
He also dismissed reports that the Senate may punish Senator Sani for revealing the allowance.