A former Kaduna federal lawmaker, Shehu Sani, has said the disclosure of his allowances and salary as a member of the National Assembly, years ago made him an enemy to his colleagues.
The chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said he was the first lawmaker in the history of Nigeria to disclose that N13.5m was paid as allowances and payments to federal legislators.
In a chat with The Punch, Sani said the revelation earned the anger and distrust of many of his colleagues then, who felt that he should not have disclosed such payment that ought to be kept a secret.
Sani said there were plans to punish and suspend him from the Senate, but it took the intervention of the then Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his then deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, to stop the actions.
He stated that Saraki and Ekeremadu also stepped in to save the Senate because Nigerians would have stormed the National Assembly if he had been penalized and suspended.
He said: “Lawmakers at the National Assembly know that each time they go on a public holiday or recess, there is a certain amount of money that is credited to their accounts. This time, it would not have been controversial if it was done silently.
“I happened to be the first legislator in the history of Nigeria to disclose allowances and payments made to legislators, and I know it came with a price to me because I earned the anger and distrust of many of my colleagues, who felt that I was coming to the National Assembly and should not have unveiled such payment that ought to be done in secret. Well, I did so to clear my own conscience and to send a message to the whole country.
“My defence was that I didn’t say that all of you were getting N13.5m, and I just said that I had been receiving an alert of N13.5m and a salary of N720,000. So, if you are not receiving that, you can tell the world that you are not receiving that.
“But I became an enemy to many of them until later when time took over. I think Bukola Saraki, the then Senate President, saved me because I could have been penalised and suspended from the Senate at that time.
“That time, Saraki and (Ike) Ekweremadu stepped in to ensure that I wasn’t suspended. They also stepped in to save the Senate because if I had been penalised and suspended, Nigerians would have stormed the National Assembly. So, they allowed the matter.”
Sani said he did not regret his action, stressing that he went to the Senate as an activist who was one of those hammering on the humongous amount of money that is paid to legislators.
He added: “I am so happy to have done it. If I had not done it, my conscience would have pricked me forever. I didn’t go to the Senate as a politician; I went there as an activist who went into politics and couldn’t have imagined myself collecting such a humongous amount without saying anything.
“Before I went to the Senate, I was one of those hammering on the humongous amount of money that is paid to legislators, and I found myself receiving that humongous amount. I thought of it as an activist; what would I have become if I had left the Senate without disclosing what I was earning while at the National Assembly? I would have been simply termed a hypocrite.”