The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), has asserted that contrary to widespread speculation, political office holders in Nigeria do not actually earn outrageous emoluments.
The Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Muhammed Shehu, gave this clarification against the backdrop of recent rumour of a proposed 114 per cent increase in salaries of political office holders by the commission, amid what Nigerians described as biting economic hardships in the country.
He described information about the salary increase as not true, noting that their salaries were last reviewed in 2007.
‘From 2008 till date there had not been any single review.
‘Last year, some individuals took the Federal Government to court. These were some activists concerned about the salaries of judicial officers.
‘In the court, the judge ruled that a judge should be paid about N10 million a month, that was the court ruling,’ he said.
He said the commission would not contemplate the speculated increase now, considering the prevailing economic challenges faced by Nigerians.
‘We are Nigerians, we are not going to start talking about reviewing salaries of political office holders now because of the challenges that the government is facing.
‘As a commission, we are going to do our work but we are not going to say we will do it now.
‘We will do it when the climate is right and then we will take it forward to the stakeholders for them to decide on what to do.
‘I want to disabuse the minds of Nigerians. It is not true that people are getting jumbo salaries.
‘The monthly salary of Mr President is less than N1.5 million; that of a minister is not even up to one million naira.
‘I know of an average CBN worker that is not even a director, who earns more than a minister. People in NNPC, NCC, ports authority earn huge salaries. What is the salary of a governor? What is the salary of a legislator?’
The chairman said what people considered as outrageous earnings by lawmakers were statutory office running costs, which should ordinarily be managed centrally by the National Assembly Service Commission.
‘I know some people will say members of the National Assembly get up to N10 million or N11 million monthly.
‘Those are not salaries, they are like operating costs of running their offices which in other societies the legislator does not have to see because there is a structure.
‘Once you get elected, you make that structure from your constituency office to computers to logistics to the size of your constituency.
‘Wherever you have a constituency office, the workers you hire, it is the National Assembly Service commission that is supposed to take care of that.’
“But the Nigerian system allows the legislator to be given a certain amount and then he deals with that and retires the receipts,” the RMAFC chief said.
The commission boss urged Nigerians to endeavour to pay their taxes to boost government revenue and improve service delivery.
According to him, less than 40 million Nigerians are presently captured in the tax net and paying taxes. ‘That is too low for a country that has more than 200 million population.’
He commended the idea of a Tax Reform Committee recently set up by President Bola Tinubu.
He said that the committee would do a lot to include economic players from the informal sector into the tax net.
‘There are all thes debate about the informal economy. What this tax reform committee that we have set up will do is bring a lot of agencies together, including RMAFC. We are a member of that committee.
‘We have articulated our position and we will communicate what we believe that can add value to the discussion.
“At the end of it all, we will have a better society where more people are paying taxes and the money will be utilised for better services and infrastructure so that every Nigerian can benefit, ‘” he said.
He urged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to identify certain categories of Nigerians who evade taxes.