National Assembly As Avenue For Self-Enrichment | Independent Newspapers Limited
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National Assembly As Avenue For Self-Enrichment

Posted: Jun 25, 2015 at 12:59 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

To say that the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives have become avenues for personal enrichment is to state the obvious. Of course there is no disputing the fact that our National Assembly has become an albatross on the neck of our democracy by the humongous salaries and allowances its members allocate to themselves in the name of law making.

This issue of outrageous salaries and allowances is not just emerging. It’s not something that the 8th NA just want to place on the table. No! It has been on since the inception of our current democratic experiment in 1999. But why are many Nigerians just waking up from their slumber to kick against this legislative extortion which has also contributed in no small measure to the much poverty amongst the Nigerian masses? This is the fundamental question.

The answer to this question isn’t far-fetched. As against what obtained in the last sixteen years that only a few people – at the level of the media, civil societies and the academia – were talking about it many Nigerians have now seen the need to add their voices to the call for the reduction in these inexplicably fat salaries and allowances of our national legislators; a scenario that has brought new words into our democratic lexicon; ‘legislooting’ and ‘legislooter’.

In the sense in which the words were coined, ‘legislooting’ simply means looting of national treasury through law making while a ‘legislooter’ is a person looting the treasury in the name of law making. Thus these two words are now being used to replace legislation and a legislator. No doubt these words fit perfectly to describe our NA members who have turned the hallowed Chambers to conduits through which money is siphoned into private pockets.

Like I said above the reason why the majority of Nigerians are now crying out loud against these exorbitant earnings by our so-called law makers is so clear; a situation whereby more than half of the states of the federation are owing workers up to 7-8 months salaries isn’t it preposterous that our law makers still want to continue in their predatory way? Doesn’t it amount to blithering wickedness on their part to want to continue collecting such ridiculous amounts even under this tottering economy?

Nigerians continue to ask questions; is this change we voted for? Did we vote the APC into power so that our legislators can continue to milk the country as obtained in the last sixteen years under the PDP even as it’s apparent that our present economic reality cannot sustain such humongous earnings? Is the abject poverty in the land – brought about by unchecked corruption at both the executive and legislative levels – not a matter of concern to our law makers? Do they – by their greedy attitude – want to eat up what remains of the country in the name of law making?

All these and more are the questions on the lips of Nigerians. As at today, Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world. Is our economy the best in the world to justify this? An average national lawmaker in the country today is earning more than the president of the United States of America. Incredible but true! This is absolutely irrational under a situation when millions of people live on less than $2 per day.

And it also stands logic on the head that a set of people whose number is less than five hundred (out of a population of about 170 million) is collecting per annum – in terms of salaries and allowances – as much as what is enough to run two to three states in a year. In a country where millions of people are wallowing in unmitigated poverty and where the annual take home of an average worker is a paltry N216, 000 based on N18, 000 minimum wage, this is basically illogical as it further smacks of avarice on the part of these elements.

The APC as the ruling party and the party that is in the majority in the NA must not forget that it rode on the crest of its Change mantra to secure the support of the Nigerian electorate and by this Nigerians want to see this change manifest in all ramifications; in the fight against corruption, in the economy, infrastructure renewal, reduction in the fat salaries and allowances of federal legislators and other political appointees, employment generation, diversification of the economy etcetera.

Nigerians voted for change so we could change old ways of doing things. We voted for change so we could have a new lease of life; so we could start to enjoy dividends of democracy that have eluded us under the sixteen years of PDP due to corruption, mismanagement and high cost of governance. We voted for change so the Nigerian masses could ease a sigh of relief – under a new government – from poverty and start to enjoy the resources freely given to us by the Creator.

But the way this new government wants to take off especially at the national legislative level, am afraid if our expectations could be met. Am afraid if our collective dream and aspiration to seeing this country achieves its glory through sacrifice – on the part of all and sundry, selfless and responsible leadership and disciplined followership, could be realised with this milk-the-country-dry attitude of our national legislators.

No doubt it’s only a selfless and responsible leadership that can easily secure the support of the people in the quest for national greatness. And without the people’s support, greatness may remain a mirage for any nation. Thus there is no better time than now for our legislators to imbibe the culture of sacrifice and shun their rapacious tendencies. The Nigerian people must speak out now.