Opinion: Nigeria’s legislature: A den of robbers?

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In Metaphysics and Epistemology, solipsism is an interesting theory and position which views ‘self’ as all that exists. An adherent of solipsism is a self-absorbed, self-obsessed narcissist whose fixation is all about ‘me-myself-and-I’. A solipsist lives in the stratosphere and troposphere of egocentricity. From this worldview, they view themselves.  Nobody else matters or is considered important to the solipsist but self.  A solipsist in political power strips others naked to cover his own nakedness. He is prone to killing and silencing others for fame to cover his shame. He pillages a commonwealth and pilfers the people’s money to provide himself the honey. He is a border-line cruel and mean maniac whose métier is pulverizing the people’s means of livelihood to prosper his egotistic self. Aggressive aggrandisement is his game. Greed is his name. Calories of corruption are his requisite nutrients.  In Nigeria, there are too many solipsists in centres of power. They are as countless as the stars of the skies.

Since 1999 when there was a switch over from the military to civilians, the average Nigerian has known nothing else but toiling. The people abandoned their destinies in the hands of men and women in the name of democracy. They trusted and had hopes persons whose feet were not in military war-boots. You will think that civilians in power will feel the pain of the masses better than any group of people sitting on the observatory Ivory tower. Wrong! Not with Nigeria’s solipsist civilians who have been uncivil in all sense of it. Nigerians are now commissioned and committed into an endless cycle of pain and suffering. They have been coerced and water-boarded into an unholy alignment with solipsists and depraved minds who hold the gavel of power. Where is democracy, equity, fairness, and justice where there is untold suffering?

In his ruggedness and doggedness, the average Nigerian fights through torture and hurt unleashed by mean men who rule over them. Nigeria’s GDP today is $404bn; the biggest in Africa. By year 2030, the consumer arm of Nigeria is projected to grow to be about 273 million in population, more than the population of France and Germany put together. The GDP will spike by an additional $500bn in 22 years. Amidst plenty, the future of our children has been shortchanged plenty. I will narrow this discourse down to Nigerian legislators who stand out like sore thumbs and curses to democracy.

Over many years and through this medium, I have bird-dogged the lawmaking chamber and its elite members. My opinions about the institution are in the public domain. I once asked a frustrated anonymous voice in Nigeria’s Presidency about our legislators’ remuneration structure who said: “The salaries and emoluments are shrouded in so much secrecy. I am not able to confirm”. I dwell on this today because of the “bombshell” from none else than Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, a man I have always wondered why he is not running for Nigeria’s Presidency.

Senator Sani recently revealed that each Nigerian senator receives N13.5 million monthly for unspecified expenses tagged “running cost” in addition to the N750,000 official consolidated salaries and allowances of the lawmakers as approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Allocations Commission. Some 109 senators coast home this whopping sum monthly for doing not much, or nothing at all other than dancing and revelling. They slumber off and fool around in the chamber, they pass no legislation that brings succour to the suffering masses, and many times don’t show up at work as often as you and I do because of the rules of the house written by all and abused by not a few. Their preoccupation is nothing but the next election and obsession on flagitious remunerations.

Behold below the bogus and bruising “running costs” allowances Nigerian senators take home every month. There are 109 senators who stay in office, for example, for a four-year term. 13.5 million x 48=648million (1 senator only) x 109=N70.632bn every four years. Nigerian senators’ stay in office cost the Nigerian taxpayers over N70bn in monthly “running costs” alone. And that was all Sani told us. There are other hidden costs that have not been revealed. We do not have an insight into what goes on in the House of Representatives with 360 members and a horde of aides.

Nigeria’s adopted democratic system, by default, has groomed and nurtured Chairmen of cumshaw; commanders-in-chief of Nigeria’s gravy-train; and cockeyed capo dei capi of corruption. Peruse the following breakdown of what I believe qualifies our National Assembly as a den of robbers: Hardship Allowance is 50 per cent of basic salary. Constituency Allowance is 200 per cent of basic salary. Newspapers Allowance is 50 per cent of basic salary. Wardrobe Allowance 25 per cent of basic salary. Recess Allowance 10 per cent of basic salary. Accommodation 200 per cent of basic salary. Utilities 30 per cent of basic salary. Domestic staff 70 per cent of basic salary. Entertainment 30 per cent of basic salary. Personal Assistants 25 per cent of basic salary. Vehicle Maintenance Allowance 75 per cent of basic salary.  Leave Allowance 10 per cent of basic salary. Severance gratuity 300 per cent of basic salary.  Car Allowance 400 per cent of basic salary.

I will not compare this charade to what obtains in other nations; I will compare Nigeria to Nigeria. In a Cimmerian economy such as Nigeria’s, this is flat-out insensitive!

Nigeria remains one of the five extremely poor nations of the world. Its poverty rate is pegged at 33.1 per cent.  Almost 100 million people live on less than $1 a day, and 92 per cent on less than two dollars a day. Almost 62 per cent of households in Nigeria consider themselves to be poor. Life remains stagnant for the majority. The minority elite class who claim to be serving the people are starving the helpless.  While many nations of the world are planning for a greater future, Nigerian lawmakers are plotting to exploit. Hearty leaders are about the people; heartless ones are about self. When will this hoity-toity from Nigerian politicians change for Pete’s sake? Do you know it may be never?

I submit that we cannot solve the nation’s problems without resolving the head-wind challenge from Nigerians who follow men and money during elections. I am always amused by my people. They chant praises on men seeking their votes; get carried away and vote for those with lying tongues, and the men later become thieves and looters in office. If these elected looters are generous with the loot; they become gods in the eyes of my people. The frugal ones are hated and despised. Somewhere down the road, another politician who wants to be senator or president storms the scene with huge cash. The man is an investor; not in the lives of hopeless Nigerians, but in himself and family. Time goes by; he also becomes a thief and looter and my people know it. But the people kiss his ring, worship the ground he walks on, peck his shoes and swing in a robotic goose steps in genuflection before him. He becomes fat and flourishing with mansions all over the world while the voters who voted in the fat and flourishing looter are as famished as victims of the Holocaust. And the cycle goes on and on.

Readers, if our National Assembly in Abuja has become a fiefdom and a den of robbers, the people helped to build, sustain and maintain it. Until my people wake up, the looting and unjust outrageous allowances and remuneration will continue. No one can help the Nigerian people but the people themselves. But, are they ready? Painfully and sadly, I do not see signs they are.

 

Culled from Punch