From whence come our help, nay, liberation in this part of the divide?
How on earth can Nigeria survive when a Senator receives N170.4m as yearly take-home?
In a nation where N18, 000 is the minimum wage; yet some states are owing backlog of salaries, with some state (like Osun State) said to be paying half-month salaries?
In clear terms, what exactly is the worth of a Nigerian legislator’s service to his constituents or to the country as a whole, at least, to warrant this astronomical pay? Are they really there to represent the people, or themselves? Because the larger population are no doubt in mess, languishing in abject poverty, while the lawmakers who are supposed to make laws, do things to better the lot of the people are living larger than life – smiling to and fro the banks at will.
Who is actually there to fight and protect the interest of majority of our people – the common man on the street? Our collective hope have incessantly and shamelessly been dashed, sacrificed on the altar of selfish machinations.
This goes beyond the self-aggrandizement which the so-called political office holders have come to identify as veritable tool to further co-opt both unsuspecting and perfidious members of the public into accepting their make-believe, cosmetic achievement.
Discussions bothering on over bloated pay for the members of the Nigeria’s national assembly have been on the front burner for a long time but sadly, relevant agencies of government appear to be helpless as to how the problem could be solved. As this was on-going, however, calls for upward review of workers’ wage were treated with undeserved attention – something that doesn’t deserve any mention, let alone being put in proper perspective for consideration. In fact, it has been subjected to the usual political chess game.
Now that elections are getting closer, the gladiators have suddenly woke up from their slumber and now promising to effect it. Needless saying it is one of such political game. After election it’ll end up in dustbin.
It has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that Nigeria’s lawmakers’ remuneration is outrageous, far more than what a sitting president in the United States of America earns. And despite the revelations, and coupled with the economic reality in the country, nobody cares as to what to do to remedy the apparent anomaly.
Yet these same lawmakers kept making mouth about the perpetual hardship and other difficulties being faced by the people. What they profess is clearly antithetical to their lifestyle, to what they say and general way of life. Even the sanest person (that’s if there is any) have been found wanting in this regard. This is the same people an ex-governor once described as a pack of “uneducated and immature” people, where less than 20 out of its 360 members make useful contributions at plenary session or sponsor motions or bills”.
When in 2015, shortly after assuming office, President Muhammadu Buhari while playing host to the management of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), rebuked the commission for approving excessive remunerations for some political office holders. He further urged the commission to seek proper interpretation of its powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.
It was on record that the president and his vice president opted for a reduced pay. But on why the National Assembly failed to toe that line only calls for serious concerns.
Almost three years down the line, however, debate on the excessive payment to political office holders is still a hot topic in the country. One would have thought the coming of Buhari, and further to the statement credited to him, the issue would have been resolved once and for all. But sadly, the presidency seems helpless, even as the lawmakers have maintained their usual hide and seek game over the matter.
One cannot but commend the courage of Senator Shehu Sani who gave an insight into the position of things as far as the lawmakers’ remuneration is concerned; though one may be tempted to query him for not saying or revealing this long before now, since he too didn’t see it as something that is appropriate judging by, one, the economic reality in the country; two, in a nation where minimum wage is 18, 000.
On why the nation agreed to have the highly expensive government model, a replica of the US model – the bicameral legislature, is still a major concern in the country. In fact, it is begging for serious attention. Nigeria could have settled for unicameralism – this, no doubt, would have allowed a moderate government expenses to run its businesses.
While preparing to pass the 2017 budget, the National Assembly made open its budget for the year, with a total sum of N125 billion to be spent during the year under review. With the figure, there was an increase of N10 billion as against the N115 billion approved for National Assembly in 2016.
The breakdown showed that of the N125 billion approved for the National Assembly, the Management got a vote of N14,919,065,013; the Senate got an allocation of N31,398,765,886 while the House of Representatives got N49,052,743,983.
The breakdown further showed that the total allocation for the Legislative Aides was N9, 602,095,928; National Assembly Commission got N2, 415,712,873; Public Accounts Committee, PAC for the Senate was allocated a total sum N118, 970,215 while House of Representatives PAC got 142,764,258.
From the foregoing, all we keep hearing and seeing are figures flying here and there with no corresponding impact being made in the society. The question is if truly these people are sincere, what stops them from taking decisive step to revert to unicameral legislature? No doubt, this is one key area that must be put into consideration in the clamour for restructuring of the country. We have tasted bi-cameral legislature and realised the burden is just too overwhelming. As such, the clamour for restructuring must effect the necessary change in this regard.
The lawmakers must come to term with the fact that generations are coming after them, and so, should look beyond their immediate satisfaction and whatever they can amass. They should rather focus on building strong institutions. It is when there are strong institutions that the nation can move forward. Strong individuals can never move a nation forward – they can only succeed to cause commotion and confusion in the land.
They should also know that it is not the number of cars they use, buildings put up here and there that matter; service to humanity goes farther than that. The foundation may have been wrong, but they can use the opportunity of today to better lots of hundreds of thousands of generations to come.
They should know power is ephemeral, it is transient. The opportunity they have today, they should use it wisely.