Nigerian senator 'busts open' $37,500 expenses payments

Source: BBC
Date: 13th-march-2018 Time:  05:44:10 am

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A Nigerian politician has revealed that senators receive 13.5m naira [£27,000, $37,500] every month to use on expenses of their own choice.

Shehu Sani, a senator for the governing All Progressives Congress [APC] party, said there is little accountability about how the money is spent.

He has called for the payments to be scrapped, saying they are a key reason why people choose to enter politics.

"I decided to bust it open. It was a moral issue," Mr Sani told the BBC.

"The National Assembly is one of the most non-transparent organs of government. It pricked my conscience and I decided to burst the bubble and open the National Assembly to public scrutiny."

"If the expenses payment system was ended then parliament would only be attractive to people who contribute ideas," he said.

The money is paid on top of a senator's salary which is more than $2,000 a month. They also receive a yearly constituency budget of $5.5m.

Nigeria's minimum wage, meanwhile, is just $50 a month.

The Senate confirmed Mr Sani's revelation but described it as "nothing new".

"Almost all holders of elective and appointive offices have running costs allocated to their offices that cannot be said to be part of their salaries," a spokesman said.

Civil society groups in Nigeria welcomed Mr Sani's decision to reveal how much senators were receiving each month.

Usman Abdul, president of the Campaign for Democracy, criticised the payments.

"You can take good care of over 100 graduates from a senator's salary," he told The Punch newspaper. "The legislature should deliberate on the abject poverty and unemployment in the country."

Meanwhile, Nigerians - who, up until now, had little hope of discovering the financial arrangements of their MPs - vented their anger on social media.

"Now we know where all Nigeria's money goes to," one person wrote on Twitter.

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