The money these legis-looters are sharing…
“The 8th National Assembly is yet to pass a bill but has spent N12, 967, 600,000 in two months to maintain its members, who were inaugurated on June 9, The Nation Newspaper has gathered.
The senators and reps who were at loggerhead over who emerges leaders of the red and green chambers all went mute when it came to sharing money. The senators, numbering 109 got N36.4 million each while the 360 members of the House of Representatives received N25 million each.
The Senators and the representatives were first paid N10 million each in June to ‘cushion’ the difficulty of settling down in Abuja.
The amount, which was to cover their expenses on housing, transport and furniture, cost the public about N4.6billion.
Last month under a pro-rata arrangement for quarterly allowance covering June, Senators got N13. 4 million each and representatives, N7million each.
Since their inauguration, the legislators have gone on recess three times and they are yet to pass a bill since they began sitting in June,” The Nation Newspaper noted in a report.
Last Wednesday, senators disagreed on the recommendation by the Finance Committee to cut their salary and allowances.
The James Manager-led committee had recommended a 30 per cent cut which, if accepted,would have saved tax payers about N2billion yearly.
This translates to N2 million reduction from the N51 million quarterly allowances enjoyed under the 7th Senate or about N874 millioch year’s four quarterly allowances alone…
…Besides, the representatives’ reduction of their quarterly allowances from N39million to N33 million will save the nation about N2. 1 billion, made up of N6million reduction in each member’s allowances over four quarters.
Some Nigerians have criticized the Senators for rejecting the pay cut proposal even after President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have resolved to slash their salary by 50 per cent.”
And so, that was how yesterday’s THE NATION newspapers reported it.
“The ordinary Nigerian legis-looter would give everything — even his life — just to remain legislating, even if his legislations were needed or not!” was the opinion expressed by a very good friend during a recent argument.
And then I sought to look into the veracity or otherwise of his claim. Sadly enough, there were substantial incriminating evidence to support his view. First, the huge amount of take-home pay the legis-looters — both at state and Federal levels — take home remains something indescribable by any dictionary-contained word. Let me try and simply put it in a tri-syllabic word, the rumored huge discrepancy between the civil servant’s salary and his legislative counterpart various allowances is drastically outrageous! And the untoward thing about rumors is that they have that uncanny ability to turn out true most times. You begin to get the picture. At the very least, only a few persons will disagree with controversial philosopher-scribe, the late Fela Kuti, that the paramount thing we need in this country is common sense. Even the English people confirm this position in their saying: “Nothing like good ol’ common sense.” The reason for this assertion will be made shortly hereafter, but suffice it to say that politics in Nigeria has greatly gone beyond what we know politics to ordinarily mean. Current Nigerian politics is no less strange than it must have been when the infamous PDP held sway in the country; when they bestowed us with an unspeakable legacy. Be that as it may, the diminished hopes, frail expectations, and chronic situation has gone out of hand and urgently calls for a major lobotomy.
Not long ago, we woke up to the unwholesome news that most Nigerian states were on the brink of dissolution due to the insufficiency of administrative funds. Whatever happened to the elephantine Federal allocations states had earlier received and their various unaccounted-for internally generated revenue? None can of course answer. But it is not out of place to say that the morning after the 2015 general elections brought upon Nigeria a tremendous shift in financial status. In simple English, Nigeria became bankrupt. Nigeria became a ghost of its past glories immediately after the elections. The statistics are there; and they are easily accessible.
Also some few weeks back, we received another disturbing report that House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, flew into Asaba, the Delta State capital in a #1.3million per-hour chartered private jet, which on the whole, brought his two-day visit to #66 million. That was just for an ordinary internal state visit! I can’t even start imagining how much would be spent when the Speaker attends an international event. That is obviously outside the purview of my thought capacity. Just when one would think of blessing the heavens our political landscape has become sane and serene, another bombshell would be delivered by our politicians, which must stir up the blinding dust of confoundity into our eyes, ears and, even, brains.
But what might have precipitated such grossness? One might be boldened to say that it is the influx of wealth into our political polis that has left us in this sorry state. For the first result, as I have observed, is that our political actors invent new ways of spending the commonwealth, and pervert the laws with that intent, and disobey the laws in their own persons and their families. They then proceed to eye one another with jealous looks, and to enter upon a course of rivalry which stamps the same character on the general body which they are members. Henceforth, they press forward on the path of money-getting-by-hook-or-crook, losing their esteem for virtue in proportion as to their esteem for wealth. Consequently, when wealth and the wealthy are honored in a state, virtue and the virtuous sink in proportionate estimation. Instead of such politicians being contentious, they end up becoming lovers of gain and covetous; and they bring about these measures by force if they have not previously succeeded in establishing their personal coffers. Why, enough spotlights have been focused on Nigerian politics over the years, all exposing the huge illogicality of its nature.
Now, I sincerely don’t know the full facts of the story about Yakubu Dogara’s actions as some of his paid media aides quickly took to different media platforms to debunk the ‘unverified’ fact that Dogara chartered the private jet using public funds, and they rebuked the media houses that dared to spread such malicious falsehood. That is normal in every political drama in the country. Every political actor must have his bottom-licking, horn-blowing boys who will always rush out to fully explain any of his actions or omissions, as if our perceptive senses have taken leave of us. However hard one might try not to say the needful, the more the burden becomes heavy and difficult, thus making it imperative that one must dare say those difficult things. Our political terrain has always been filled with one painful after another painful experience.
I think only few Nigerians will disagree with me when I claim that Nigerian politics poses a great threat to common sense and reason. Whether I am right or wrong, I dare not go so far as to decide positively; but suppose that I am warranted in affirming that I am not far from the truth. Nothing can be better than the presence of good ol’ common sense in our own political landscape. Nay! our own political players must always run the system in a destructive and squanderous fashion. Heartlessly fleecing the commonwealth as though Nigeria is on the verge of extinction the very next minute.
I read somewhere recently that President Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, have decided — in a gesture of uncommon example — to cut their salary by half in the face of the current dire economic situation the country is facing. Such gesture, they believed, is going to set a good exemplar which should be followed by other political leaders. I haven’t stopped being fascinated with President Buhari’s honestheartedness. Commendable, indeed. But as the saying goes: “Our knowledge is vastly outstripped by our ignorance.” We hope those things we don’t know about will not overshadow the ones we know.
But if indeed, the APC-led government would have us believe that it has a totally different ideology from the unforgettable PDP, then such current instances of monumental waste — as recorded against Dogara, or being recorded against a National Assembly dominated by them — must never be recorded in their fold. It isn’t even up to a year, and the APC is gradually exhibiting some insidious PDP characteristics. The inevitable question must be asked: What will happen if they continue unabated in the next four years? Surely, your guess must be as good as mine.
Maybe Dogara momentarily forgot he was a public figure, and by extension, a teacher. It is all dangerous to have a public official (teacher) who is not a living example of what he teaches. This is because by the evidence of psychological analysis, on the average, the students are all within the psycho-graphy of plasticity. Indeed very impressionable and malleable at the influence of the teacher. Who knows, maybe that my unknown Senator or Representative at Abuja, who has never dreamt of flying in a private jet all his life, would wake up one morning to start pricing the cost of a latest Boeing Express private jet. Whatever the least departure or change in conduct occasioned by the influence of the teacher is registered and finally becomes a hard element in the conduct of his future life. Every bad example constitutes a scandal and can even be strongly argued to be as to the nature of fundamental rights abuse.
Quite to the point, not many will disagree that Nigerian politics has gone haywire. On the contrary, the compelling evidence on ground tells the whole story sufficiently. It can be expressed thus: When one of our fingers is hurt, the whole painful fellowship that spreads through the body up to the soul, and there forms an organized unity under the governing principle, is sensible of hurt, and there is a universal and simultaneous feeling of pain without sympathy for the wounded part. Our own peculiar brand of politics back here follows the hurting pattern; always unreasonable, defying common sense, always unagreeable to the ears, always excerbating the wound.
And so, even if the APC has not yet reached the stage of weeping over split milk, we have to call a spade a spade since we know that more could be achieved if only we could be a little more disciplined and committed to the task at hand. If I am not wrong, the obvious task facing the APC is how to salvage the wreck wrought upon by the PDP. To this end, I want to render an unsolicited advice to President Muhammadu Buhari. Cutting your salary by fifty percent is indeed good, Sir. Very good. But alongside that, Sir, I propose that you create a new ministry to be known as the Ministry of Common Sense, to be headed by a common-sensed individual, and should be strategically located at the heart of your government. This ministry should not be a matter of paper assignment to be slipped under the bed when Nigerians — as is their norm — stop watching. Rather, it should transcend ordinary nominalism, mediocrity and passivity. The singular task of this ministry should be to see that every action or inaction of your government is laced with objectivity and reasonableness.
Since generosity begets generosity (or rather, leadership, as in this case), I believe that our legislators, state governors will follow suit, without undue delay. The local government chairmen, ward councillors and other political office holders will as a matter of formality, have no option than to follow suit. Challenging it is to them. But nonetheless to the point.
Meanwhile, until then, the money these legis-looters are pocketing tells us of the manifest gross absurdity of priorities in our politics. No wonder they are in the habit of hitting out at each other like hungry wolves at the slightest instance. The money these legislators are sharing…
I remain ARIKOR OGONNAYA.
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