By Segun Giwa
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), on Wednesday in Akure, defended its position on the review of remuneration for political, public and judicial office holders in the country.
The Chairman of the Commission, Muhammed Shehu, said that the step was aimed at closing the gap in salary disparity existing among the office holders across the country.
Shehu said this at the opening of a one-day South-West zonal public hearing on the review of remuneration for political, public and judicial office holders in the country, organised by the commission.
The chairman, who was represented by a member representing Ondo State in the commission, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin, assured Nigerians that the review exercise would be fair, just and equitable in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Shehu said that since the last review in 2008, various changes had occurred in the socioeconomic indicators and other variables in the country.
According to the chairman, those that will benefit 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 thE Constitution.
“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.
“Accordingly, the aim of this review exercise is to achieve an all-inclusive exercise that will capture all political, public and judicial office holders at all levels in the country who were hitherto not captured,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, who declared the hearing opened, said conscious efforts must be made 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, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, maintained that the country must march towards nationhood as a people of manifest fortunate destiny and must fashion practicable ways to get out of the current stagnation.
The governor said that power must devolve to the federating units of the country to lay claims to being a federal state and also determine the salaries and allowances of its officials with control of their resources and only pay tax to the centre.
“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 oil boom of the early 70s encouraged redundancy, progressively. The discovery of oil, the reason for the remarkable progress of other countries, has thus become a huge curse on the land.
“Only those who benefit from this current dysfunction will want it to continue,’’ the governor said.
Akeredolu said the country must not pretend that all was well when it was dithering on the brink of collapse, as all patriots mist be resolute to challenge the present structural defects which has affected growth.(NAN)