BY OLUFISOYE ADENITAN &LEKE ADEGBITE
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, (RMAFC), has explained the reasons for its ongoing reviewing renumeration package for political, public and judicial office holders, saying that the move is targeting at closing the gap in salary disparity existing among them across the country.
The Chairman of the RMAFC, Muhammed Bello Shehu stated this on Wednesday in Akure, the Ondo state capital, at the opening of a one-day Southwest Zonal Public Hearing on the Review of Remuneration Package for the Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders in the country, organized by the Commission.
The Chairman who was represented by the RMAFC Member from Ondo State, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin maintained that since the last review in 2008, however, noted that various changes had occurred in the socioeconomic indicators and other variables in the country.
Bello Shehu listed those that will benefited from the review of the remuneration include; the President, Vice President, Governors Deputy Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers, Legislators and the holders of the offices mentioned in sections 84 and 124 of this Constitution.
He said the step is aimed at, “to Close the gap in salary disparity existing among Political and Public office holders;
“To Come up with salary structure for the Judicial Office Holders in keeping with the best international practice and guarantee delivery of justice in the most effective and efficient way.
“To draw a remuneration package that would be seen to be just, fair and equitable to the beneficiaries in relation to the different roles they play in the country at all levels.
“Consequently, the process for the review requires the active participation and contribution of all stakeholders. ln this respect, i will like to request you to make your inputs to achieve the success in the ongoing review exercise.
“On behalf of Members, Management and Staff of the Commission, I thank you all for listening and wish you safe journey back to your respective destinations,” the Commission Chairman said.
“These changes have prompted the need for another review to reflect the current realities. The commission is examining the existing remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders in the country in the face of the public outcry and changing realities in the economy,” Bello Shehu said.
On his part, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who declared the exercise opened said, “We must make conscious efforts to reduce the overbearing influence of the Federal Government and its institutions on the constituent units to encourage development.
Akeredolu, who was represented by his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa maintained that “As we march towards nationhood as a people of manifest fortunate destiny, we must fashion practicable ways to get out of the current doldrums.”
“Most Nigerians participating in this public hearing will conclude, hastily, that its purpose is self-serving and highly insensitive to the plight of the ordinary people.
“The mere knowledge that humongous budgetary allocations are appropriated as recurrent expenditure in a country, struggling with issues of development, is perennially unsettling. A negligible fraction engaged to serve the populace gobbles a disproportionate part of the commonwealth.
“Ordinary Nigerians are, justifiably, vehement on the need to tinker with the current structure to allow real creation of wealth rather than concentrate all attention on how to share it. The current practice of fixing salaries and allowances of public officials to reflect uniformity in a polity, which prides itself as federal, appears odd.
“The logic of mopping up revenues accruable to states and local governments into a general pool for the purpose of sharing, in accordance with some opaque formulas, is anachronistic and retrogressive in a country with a fast-growing heterogenous population. It is not sufficient for this Commission to regulate the salaries of public officials.
“The country continues to pretend that all is well when it is dithering on the brink of collapse. All patriots must be resolute in challenging the present structural defects which stifle growth.
“The system which allows a very strong central government and weak dependencies is not capable of development. It will be much more profitable for the Federal Government to dissipate less energy in its pursuit of the misnomer touted as local government autonomy.
“Let every State determine the salaries and allowances of its officials. Let the states control their resources and pay tax to the centre,” Akeredolu said.
Thereafter, a technical session was held to accommodate inputs from stakeholders, civil society groups and the general public and representatives of Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Ondo State governments.