An almost innocuous revelation by a federal lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Hon. Simon Karu, representing Kaltungo/Shongom federal constituency of Gombe State that House members take home N9.3 million monthly is eliciting behind-the-scene rage from his colleagues, while other knowledgeable Nigerians are angry that N32 billion may have been paid out to federal lawmakers in the last nine months, including the months Covid-19 ravaged the country.
Karu said the N9.3 includes monthly salary of N800, 000 and an additional N8.5m as office running costs.
At an Independence anniversary lecture, ‘Fix Nigeria @60’, in Abuja, Karu, heaped blame on constituents of lawmakers. “The official salary of a member, House of Representatives which I also receive monthly is N800, 000. I told you I was going to say it. Why don’t you wait for me to say it? The office running cost of a member of the House of Representatives is N8.5m. Those of you who know, know that I said exactly what it is. The problem is what the constituents demand and when you don’t meet, they begin to call you names.”
“Just before I walked to the stage, I received three emails from my constituents demanding for money and demanding for jobs, when you don’t respond, it becomes an issue”, Karu said.
Recall that in the last Senate, Kaduna Central lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, drew the ire of his colleagues when he went public that he and others in the Upper House of the National Assembly got N13.5 million. With an additional N900,000, it means Senators were, and still, get N14.4 million.
For 109 Senators in a month, the figure is 1,569,600,000 per month, while House of Reps member, 360 in all, get N3,348,000,000 monthly. In nine months, the lawmakers in both Houses would have got about N44 billion.
Response to Karu’s indiscretion was fast and swift. Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Agreements and Protocols, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, repudiated Karu’s position, putting him down at the same event.
Said he: “I have never received such a salary since I came to the National Assembly and I have been in the National Assembly before him.”
Many did not believe Ossai, but other lawmakers are quietly going after Karu’s jugular for spilling the beans on them.
Meanwhile, a former Senator from Niger State, David Umaru, has debunked a report alleging that he diverted and embezzled N50million meant for the renovation of some schools in his constituency in 2018.
Reacting, Umaru boasted that no Senator before or after has matched what he did in terms of education for his constituents, adding that the story was done to embarrass and tarnish him.
He said that the money meant for the renovation of eight blocks of three classrooms in some local government areas of Niger East Senatorial District was used judiciously beyond budgetary provisions because he was very interested education of youths in his constituency.
In addition, he says he sponsored 10 law students annually with full scholarship paid.
Moreover, he disclosed that 77 undergraduate students in Nigerian universities were on his payroll with full scholarship “I also have 66 secondary students across unity schools in the country with full scholarships and many other interventions”, he said.
He adds, “I have being struggling to ignored or to respond to this “funny journalism” with no iota of professionalism, because this publication was done without due regards to research or investigation. It is a paid Job meant to tarnish my image.
“However, I made bold to say that when it comes to constituency projects, you can hardly find a Senator in the state that has done what I did during my time as a senator.
“Specifically I have taken constituency projects quite seriously during my time as a Senator and in fact in most cases I go beyond the budgetary provision to ensure that such projects are completed”.
“Usually when provisions are made in the budget, it is not the whole amount that is released to the supervisory agency, usually it is 70 percent but in this particular case 70 percent was released but the work I did was 95 percent completed.
“That is why I found this publication so funny. The projects are there and very visible across the seven local government areas for everybody to see.
“it is funny for someone to allege that I embezzled N50 million meant for the renovation of schools in my constituency when I have in several instances gone beyond budgetary provision to get these projects done.
“I didn’t go to the Senate to be rich, that was not my intention, I went there to serve my people which I did to the best of my ability. I can say it boldly that I did credible well as a Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, so I see this publication as a paid job to rubbish me”.