Again, our Senators and Representatives at the upper and lower houses of the National Assembly have reminded us how foolish we have been over the years and how much they have taken us for a ride without provoking any action except loud noise.
Our national budget for 2018 is in the national assembly’s cooler, frozen for five months without any definite time line for its passage; yet, the jumbo salaries and allowances of these lawmakers are running and well oiled. The figures have been shrouded in mystery and utmost secrecy for donkey years.
One of the few courageous Nigerians, who has spoken out and even provided insight into the seven or eight digit total emoluments of these politicians is Prof. Sagay, the anti-corruption aide to President Buhari. The man has been a whistle blower, alerting the nation on the monumental depletion of our treasury by these legislators.
Led by Dr. Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dugara, Nigerian law makers are today so audacious in their office such that they have combined legislative work and annexed part of the executive and judicial functions. They are the ones who pad budgets, and “legitimately” allocate to themselves monies for constituency projects and votes as well as determine their own salaries and allowances. They have even taken up some judicial functions, not only making laws but interpreting them for the nation.
Our National Assembly members are said to earn six times what their counterparts in the world’s biggest economy, the United State of America, take home.
Why not? When they take sitting and standing allowances, ride 36million naira cars, which they take away after their tenure. Their basic salary at the upper house is about 13.8million in a country where States are struggling to pay and are owing huge arrears to workers who earn the basic salary of N18,000 per month.
Prof. Sagay told The Nation on March 19, 2018 that if Nigerians were to know the actual allowances the Senate President and House of Representative Speaker and their deputies plus principal officers draw home, the nation would revolt.
What are we waiting for to revolt? Is it when our leaders dry up what is left of the Deziani’s, the Dasuki gates, the Malabo deals and other horrible lootings of the national treasury?
Our law makers are the ones swimming in our oil wealth. In scarcity, they are the ones riding exotic cars worth over N30million; some of them even drive in bullet proof cars. They sit for a few hours reviewing laws already made or debating the ones that may never serve any public interest.
We have clamoured for unicameral legislature or the scrapping of the two present chambers and collapsing them into one chamber that will be served by part time law makers. Why can Nigerians not walk and work their talks? Why should we not democratically dismantle this octopus group, which has hijacked governance and the treasury and has held the nation to ransom ?
It is only in a jungle or animal farm, where the game is survival of the fittest, and ‘might’ is right, that this kind of serial rape of the treasury and masses’ long suffering can play out.
Otherwise, how come a country, which cannot pay N18,000 basic salary to its workers, owing months and year of arrears of salaries and allowances to workers, its pensioners daily fainting and dying on queues for their monthly pay, is able to pay its state and national legislators humongous sums of money as salaries and allowances.
How come a nation that cannot pay N5,000 monthly to its community of unemployed graduates and youths as social security fund afford huge payments for three arms of government.
A country that was in recession and is now in depression has resorted to oppression through the hijack of the treasury by law makers.
Never before has the National Assembly been this powerful, authoritarian and insensitive as the current regime. They are now so much above the law that they cannot be questioned. They fixed their salaries instead of allowing the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocations Commission to do so. Take them and their officers to court and they shake off all legal bullets. To recall them through the democratic process as in the case of Dino Melaye is a no go area. Question them about their assets declaration and they stall prosecution as well as rally round themselves to form a human shield.
Let one of them speak out against the evil in the place; they will silence the person through suspension for long legislative sittings. Let the executive arm try anything to call them to order and they will withhold screening of public officers and even put budget appraisal on hold indefinitely.
The latest battle with INEC and the Executive arm over reordering of sequence of election plus other bills the President refused to assent to show the brazen of the current legislature. Even an Obasanjo and Buhari combined cannot tame these ones. Who then is checking an assembly that has gone this far in tyranny?
Many Nigerians are miffed by these outrageous revelations of figures, which simply point out that our leaders had been taking us for granted. When people speak out, such will be labelled hate speeches and when they decide our “mumu don do”, and “enough is enough,” these leaders will label them instigation. This kind of thing cannot happen in the Arab World, where radical populace will easily take to the streets and bring down the legislature.
In Kenya, when law makers tried to increase their pay, the people vehemently opposed it, insisting that legislators must be sensitive to the state of the nation’s economy. When the economy booms, it should boom for everyone; when it slumps, everyone must feel the slump. Kenyan lawmakers saw reason and backed down.
It is now clear why politics for the national assembly and the executive arms of government is a do or die affair. No one knows what our President, our Chief Justice and others earn in salaries and allowances. They cannot feel the pains of the ordinary people, who cannot afford one good meal a day. They cannot understand what the masses mean when we say that the purported from recession is not being felt by the ordinary man on the street.
Just as one writer in The Punch stated, our leaders are directly telling us that if you are not a senator; a member of the privileged political class; a top civil servant or public officer in the public or private sector; a big time kidnapper or assassin; a herdsman; sweep stake winner; armed robber, a pen robber; security chief or corrupt judge; big time prostitute, rich cleric or successful psychophant; a shylock businessman or smart blackmailer; foreign based footballer, etc., then you better commit suicide by jumping into the lagoon.
Looking at this boxed table, will you say it is an appetizer, a tranquilizer or anesthesia (sedative)