Senator Shehu Sani on Saturday said his exposure of the monthly salary and allowance of each senator amounting to staggering N13.5m was done in good faith.
Sani made this assertion in an interview aired on Ibadan-based radio station, Fresh FM, on a programme, “Political Circuit”.
The lawmaker had said each senator receive N700,000 monthly and a separate N13.5m as running costs.
His revelation of the sum sparked outrage with senators becoming subject of vitriol. Denying any suggestion that he blew off the lid on the salaries and allowances of senators in order to bring his colleagues to ridicule, the senator representing Kaduna said, “The National Assembly is made up of distinguished personalities – doctors, lawyers, engineers, academics and all who have made it in life. But because of this culture of secrecy and silence, people who found themselves in the National Assembly are criminalised and stigmatised.
“The dome of the National Assembly is being seen to house people of questionable character and integrity. So, what I did was to rescue the honour and credibility of the parliament by removing the veil of secrecy to bring it once and for all to an end.
“ It has been 19 years of civil administration and it has been 19 years of secrecy, of people not wanting to speak out.
“We have reached a point where people speculate and say so many bad things about the National Assembly. You see all sorts of figures of what senators are collecting. Some say N50 million, some speculate N100 million. But whatever people say, naturally, others will believe because there is no counter information, no truth coming from the other side.”
Continued: “So, I said, ‘I know it is painful, I know that I will lose friends and colleagues within the very establishment that I serve’. But I need to speak because I was part of those who fought and struggled for the restoration of this democracy.
“I went to jail and was in the forefront of the protest against military rule. It is not possible for me to speak against the military rule and now I cannot. And, as such, I say it is temporary pain.”
Meanwhile the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has weighed in on the disclosure saying the amount pales beside the sum principal officers of the National Assembly received.
Sagay told Punch: “If you come to know the allowances that the leadership of the two houses are getting. My God! It will blow up the country. What is the Senate President getting? It is not the ordinary N13m.
“What does he get as Senate President? What is the leader of the House getting, what is the deputy leader of the House getting? What is the Deputy Senate President getting? What are the minority leaders getting in both houses? Go and find out. It is an explosive stuff.”