The Trade Union Congress has kicked against the plan to increase the pay of politicians, saying any upward review in their pay will increase political violence and poverty.
The union, in a statement on Wednesday, expressed consternation at the plan by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to review the remuneration of political office holders.
In the statement signed by the TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, the union said this development was coming at a time when the local and foreign debts were overwhelming and the country was grappling with a lot of economic issues.
The union wondered if the Federal Government’s increase in the Value Added Tax was aimed at raising money to pay politicians.
It stated, “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 councilor with O’Level result earning higher than a university professors. 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. 9b it applied for, our total debt profile would have risen to about $84b. 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.”
The TUC called on the government to ‘drastically reduce’ the cost of governance.
It stated, “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 hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths useful employment.
“To this effect, if Nigeria will move forward then there is a serious need for imminent restructuring of the political system.”
It said the leadership belittled the country before the international community when they nurse such ideas now.