A member of the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed, says members of the National Assembly are not the highest paid political office holders in Nigeria.
Mohammed, who represents Baruten/Kaiama Federal Constituency, also denied that the legislators’ pay was a guarded secret.
He said: “The public perception of the National Assembly is in sharp contrast to the reality on the ground as far as the lawmakers take-home and other allowances are concerned.”
According to him, chief executives of federal agencies earn more salary than the National Assembly members.
Mohammed said: “I can tell you that a Director-General of a Federal agency is far and above better than a member of parliament in terms of what he takes home in terms of pegs of office.
“Whatever a legislature does is within the limit of his allowances and the salary that he takes.
“Whatever we do is within the income, we don’t award contracts, we don’t execute projects.”
Mohammed, however, advocated regular interface between the National Assembly and the public to address what he termed as current erroneous perception on the matter.
He said: “So for me, I believe it is a mindset and it is going to take sometimes to get it off Nigerians heads, and I believe a regular interface with the public will change the psyche with time.”
The lawmaker noted that the legislature had been painted in bad light since the inception of the fourth republic.
He explained: “The National Assembly since 1999 has been living with image issue and of course I’m saying it without any fear of contradiction that it was caused by the then President (Olusegun) Obasanjo.
“To me, it is matter of psyche. Nigeria must get it out of them that legislature is being painted in the kind of light that it is not supposed to be, because I have been a member of the house and know exactly what they are doing.”
The former House spokesman cautioned Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State against casting aspersions on the National Assembly.
Mohammed said the governor had taken the path of demonising the National Assembly because of ‘‘individual inclination” and his grouse with some lawmakers representing his state.
Mohammed described the governor’s recent outburst over the National Assembly budget as ‘‘hypocritical”.
On his governorship ambition in 2019, the former commissioner said he had the right credentials for the position.
He however acknowledged that the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, would have the last say as to “who becomes what” in Kwara State.
According to him, Saraki is the head of the existing political structure in the state.
Mohammed said: “I want to say we have a leadership in Kwara, we have a pattern, we have a tradition, a practice through which leaders or through those who govern us emerge.
“So as a member of that political family, I believe that when the time comes, the appropriate measure would be applied and at the end of the day the verdict of the leader will definitely be what we will abide by.”
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