In the ever peaking and troughing climate of African politics, Nigerian legislators have awarded themselves a new set of ‘wardrobe’ allowances, reinforcing their position at the top of the world league tables as highest paid politicians.
Nigerian legislators are well known for their flamboyant dress style and even former President, Goodluck Jonathon appeared in Vogue magazine.
Nigeria’s newly inaugurated National Assembly is set to receive a massive $43 million (4.19billion kes) to spend on clothes.
Described as a wardrobe allowance, the amount will be split between both chambers of the National Assembly with the 109 members of the Senate receiving $108,000 (10.5million kes) each while the 360 members of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber, will each receive 8.6million kes, equivalent.
Aside from a wardrobe allowance, the National Assembly will also receive other furniture and car loan allowances. The furniture allowance will see 107 senators receive 320million kes, while 358 House of Representatives members will receive total of nearly 1 billion kes. The lawmakers can also access car loans with senators possibly provided with 425 million kes and House of Representatives members provided with 1.37 billion kes in car loans. While ordinary members of both chambers get these allowances, two principal officers from each chamber, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House and their deputies will have furniture provided by the Federal Government.
In a country with 60% of the population surviving on less than $2 a day, it is difficult for the average person to understand why a legislator would need another $100k on top of his or her $180k salary to buy new clothes, although rumour has it that at least one recently re-elected member, Mr Wale Alausa of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP-Ijebu Ode) has been in dire need of his wardrobe allowance.
Perhaps this is a classic case of the Emperor’s new clothes, or maybe a protest for political transparency, whatever, most will be pleased to know that Mr Alausa can now at least afford the basics of human decency. With almost 30,000kes per person per day to spend on new attire one wonders if the Nigerian parliament may now degenerate into a fashion show, with sartorial style and elegance taking precedence over policy and debate.
The Nigerian people voted for change this last election, political change, not a change of clothing!