DOES NIGERIA NEED A 469-MEMBER NATIONAL ASSEMBLY?

DOES NIGERIA NEED A 469-MEMBER NATIONAL ASSEMBLY?

Felix Oti

Since the revelation, a couple of weeks ago, of the salaries and allowances of members of Nigeria's national assembly, enraged Nigerian in Diaspora have been up in literal arms demanding that some heads -no matters whose-must roll. Their anger, and those of their fellow citizens at home, are well-founded considering that Nigeria's Human Development Index has fallen in recent months from 142 down to 145. In simple terms, this tells us that as the years go by, since return to democracy, couple with influx of excess oil revenue, Nigerians have increasingly been worse off in healthcare, education, infrastructural development, job creation, etc. So, to know that an average Nigerian senator takes home more dollars a month than his American counterpart is something to lose one's head over.

To better understand what informed my question, let us compare some countries with the same population range as Nigeria, and which practice's the same bicameral legislative system; I considered their 2010 population, their GDP, Per Capita, their positions on the UN's Human Development Index, number of member of the National Assembly, and the ratio of citizens per a representative of the national assembly -both House and Senate. A brief summary for six countries – including Nigeria is presented below. The US is added because it is one end of the extreme, and Nigeria being the other.

 

Russia

Indonesia

Pakistan

Brazil

Nigeria

USA

Population (m)

143,000,000

238,000,000

170,000,000

191,000,000

155,000,000

309,000,000

Senate

166

132

100

81

109

100

House

450

692

336

513

360

435

GDP ($)

$2.20

$1.00

$465

$2.20

$217

$14

Per Capita

$10,000

$4,000

$3,000

$11,000

$1,300

$47,000

HDI (Pos)/177

65

108

125

73

145

4

Ratio

Senate

861,446

1,803,030

1,700,000

2,358,025

1,422,018

3,090,000

House

317,778

343,931

505,952

372,320

430,556

710,345

*The GDP of the countries indicated in yellow are in trillions of dollars

 

While Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia are closer in population, Russia’s GDP is $2.2 trillion, its Per Capita is $10,000, and its HDI is 65/177 – that is, 65th out of a list of 177 countries. So, Russia can afford to pay for 166 senators and 450 House members and still provide adequately for its citizens. Pakistan with a population of 170 million is close to 20 million people more than Nigeria, yet it has only 100 Senators and 336 House members. Though its GDP is only in the billions, its Per capita is still higher than Nigeria’s at $3,000. Though one could argue that its HDI is not even in the considered “medium” range, one need to factor in the political and social turmoil the country has been going through in the past 15 years. Brazil, with a much larger population and a higher per capita than Russia and Pakistan, has only 81 Senators and 513 House members.

Now, does Nigeria with a population of 155 million, a GDP of only $217 billion, per capita of a paltry $1,300, and a HDI of 145 out of 177 countries need to have 109 Senators and 360 house members making that much money every month?  Given the figures above, it does not need more than 73 Senators and 182 House members in the national assembly. Nigeria could very well do without the excess baggage of additional 36 senators and 178 house members; the money save from their salaries and allowances could be used to build schools and hospitals, and other amenities that will improve the country’s human development.

This study is not about finding about the appropriate proportion of constituents per legislator; rather, it is about the ability of a country to pay for the number of legislators in its national assembly.

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