This translates to an 80% increase and an additional N9.720billion strain on public purse every quarter or N38.88billion per year.
The House leadership had been under severe pressure from members to review the allowance meant for running their oversight functions.
The leadership was said to have succumbed to the pressure with a view to insulating members from temptation from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) in the course of performing their oversight functions.
The quarterly allowance is just one of the several enjoyed by the Reps and Senators.
Other benefits and allowances, as approved by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) are salaries, vehicle maintenance and fuelling, Personal Assistant, house maintenance, entertainment, utilities, constituency allowance, hardship allowance, vehicle loan, duty tour and estacode (where applicable).
Only last year, the House requested Camry cars for the oversight functions of its 360 members costing a total of N2.5billion.
The increase in the quarterly allowance of the Reps is bound to raise questions following the recent decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to cut the emolument of public officers.
It was gathered that the Reps launched their bid for the secret increase in the aftermath of the belt tightening measures put in place by the Speaker of the House Aminu Tambuwal.
At an executive session last month the Reps had queried why their predecessors in the sixth National Assembly earned N42 million per quarter as against the N15million they were receiving.
Some of them were also alleged to have asked the Speaker why Senators are on about N45 million quarterly allowance.
They said they could not understand what was described as “the yawning gap” between House quarterly allowance and Senate’s.
A reliable source said: “Members actually wanted a reversion to the old rate of N42 million per quarter but Tambuwal rejected the move in view of the financial challenges facing the House.
“The Speaker also claimed that the leadership would prefer a low rate allowance in line with its ongoing reforms.
“After a stormy session, the House leadership sensed that a revolt was in the offing and it had to go back to the drawing board.
“After consultations, Tambuwal announced an increase of N12million in the quarterly allowance of members. So, they will now earn N27million per quarter.
“If Tambuwal had not increased the quarterly allowance, I doubt if he would still be in office by now.
“Also, the House leadership decided to bow to members’ demand to insulate them from being influenced by MDAs during oversight functions. We do not want members to function at the mercy of MDAs, we felt we should avoid recourse to bribery.
It was however gathered that the increase was effected secretly to avoid backlash from the public.
“We did not make noise about the increase because of perception. Our quarterly allowance is short of what the Sixth House of Representatives got but before you know it, we will be the butt of attack.
“Nigerians do not pay attention to the allowances of the Executive and the Judiciary. Out of the N4.8billion budget passed on Thursday, the National Assembly’s share is about N150 to N200billion. What fraction of the budget is that? Yet, we are always the sacrificial lambs,” the source added.
Investigation showed that the payment of the additional N12million quarterly allowance was effected last week by the House leadership.
A member of the House said: “Yes, we have started receiving the increase, it is left to us to use it judiciously because we have a busy calendar.”
It could not be ascertained at press time whether the House leadership put the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) into confidence on the increase in the allowances.
Section 32 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 constitution empowers only the RMAFC to either enhance or cut salaries of political office holders, legislators and the judiciary.
The section reads: “The Commission shall have power to (a) monitor the accruals to and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account; (b) review from time to time, the revenue allocation formulae and principles in operation to ensure conformity with changing realities…
“(d) Determine the remuneration appropriate for political office holders, including 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.”
But the Executive arm was said to have got wind of the secret increase in spite of the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan to effect 25 per cent pay cut.
A presidency source said: “The Executive has got wind of the increase but the truth is that it will not guarantee any loan to pay any allowance. And any chamber that overshoots its budget will be on its own.
“It is also left to RMAFC to join issue with the House on the appropriateness.”
Jonathan had, in January, announced the pay cut in the salaries of political office holders.
Another member of the House said: “We are not political office holders; we are elected members of the National Assembly. So, Jonathan’s directive is not binding on us, it applies to only the Executive.
“During the administration of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, he announced a similar pay cut but the Judiciary wrote to RMAFC to be exempted from the exercise. The directive did not affect the Judiciary accordingly.
“The quarterly allowance is a statutory benefit of members of the National Assembly because it is within our budget plans. It is not as if any lawmaker is stealing money.”