Organised labour under the auspices of Trade Union Congress (TUC) has expressed dismay over plans by Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review the remuneration of political office holders.
TUC, in a statement made available on Tuesday said such decision was ill-informed now that local and foreign debts were overwhelming and the country grappling with a lot of economic issues.
According to TUC, this is a conspiracy that must not be allowed to stand because of the dire consequences it will further have on the economy, people and our collective image.
The statement, signed by the President and Secretary General of the congress, Comrade Quadri Olaleye and Comrade Musa Lawal Ozigi respectively, queried if the Federal Government increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) to raise money to pay the politicians.
“Some countries in Africa now have a unicameral legislature because their former system was eating deep into the national treasury. Why can’t we think along that line? After all, we have a National Assembly that you could hardly see all the members seated at every session. It is the same thing at the state level, yet their absence has never disturbed any session.
“Imagine a councillor with O’Level result earns higher than a university professor? It is only in Nigeria that ex-governors who served two terms will retire to the Senate, yet earn pension from the state. It is only in Nigeria that ex-governors that are jailed for corruption collect salaries and other allowances. This is preposterous and it makes mockery of our system.
“Report had it that if the Federal Government succeeds in borrowing the $29.9 billion it applied for, our total debt profile would have risen to about $84 billion. Even the World Bank has warned about the danger and consequences of our debt, yet it appears no one cares if the country goes further down in shame.
“The question is, why tax or borrow just to pay politicians and service cronies when over 21 per cent of our able bodied youths are unemployed? We are worried that the insecurity situation arising from unemployment does not bother them.
“We are demanding that the cost of governance be drastically reduced. We do not need 496 lawmakers. Governors do not need over 500 aides. It is too expensive to maintain. The salaries and allowances of these public office holders in Nigeria is part of the cause of the economic hardship in Nigeria. Half of these political officials’ salaries, if put into proper use, could give hundred thousands of unemployed youths useful employment,” the TUC noted.
It further added that to this effect, “if Nigeria will move forward, then there is a serious need for imminent restructuring of the political system. For us, the leadership belittles the country before the international community when they nurse such ideas now. It is a bizarre thing to do and we condemn it in strong terms. We enjoin the authorities to drop the idea to restrain the do-or-die attitude of some politicians.”