The most vocal opposition party in Nigeria, Action Congress (AC), Sunday lambasted the National Assembly (parliament) for ”unilaterally raising its allocation in the 2008 budget” from the 67 billion naira (US$572 million) proposed by the Executive to 140 billion naira (US$1.19 billion).
In a statement, the party said the increase ”smacks of insensitivity to the plight of millions of Nigerians who are living below the poverty line”.
It also said it would support a decision by President Umaru Yar’Adua not to give his assent to the budget passed by the National Assembly, on the basis of the increase.
AC said information available to it showed the increase was to accommodate the new salaries and allowances of the MPs.
“For instance, we learnt that each member of the House of Representatives will now be getting 36 million naira (US$308,000) per quarter or 12 million naira (US$102,000) monthly, while each Senator will be receiving 65 million naira (US$556,000) per quarter or over 20 million naira (US$171,000) per month!
“Nothing can justify that level of extravagance and Arabian night opulence, in a country where more than 70 per cent of the population live on less than 117 naira per day (US$1),” the party said.
Explaining its anger at such a huge increase, the party said: “This is a tough time for Nigerians, considering the worsening power situation, high level of insecurity, high cost of transportation occasioned by the terrible state of our roads and rising unemployment, just to mention a few.
“What is expected from the true representatives of the people are serious and concerted actions to mitigate the effects of these hard times, not profligate spending and personal aggrandisement by elected representatives of the people.
“If the lawmakers cannot justify the doubling of their allocation, at a time that resources available for the critical social sectors are diminishing, then they should revert to the original allocation of 67 billion naira and apologise to all Nigerians for their indiscretion,” AC added.