Increasingly as an integral part of
the heightened national discourse on
the skyrocketing and unsustainable
cost of governance in the country;
more and more lights of scrutiny are
being beamed on the National
Assembly [NASS] at the national/
federal level in particular, and
legislative assemblies across all tiers
of government in general.
So for instance we now know that our
federal legislators at the National
Assembly are some of the highest paid
in the world [first in Africa, and only
3rd behind US and Australia globally],
even though they continue to deny
that they are so highly paid, while
refusing in flagrant violation of
provisions of federal legislation
passed into law by the same assembly
and accented to by the President of
the Federal Republic – the Freedom of
Information [FOI] Act!
It is scandalous enough that in a
nation where 70% of the population
live in poverty, that is over 110 million
persons; where general unemployment
is 24% [that is one in four persons of
working age are out of job]and youth
unemployment between 45% and 50%
[that is one in two youths of working
age are out of job]; and where there
is, all by official account, well over 18
million housing deficit; that the
elected representatives of the people
of such a country could be the 3rd
highest paid in world! It is even more
unbelievably scandalous, that their
average remuneration is more than
116 times the average per capital
income of citizens! Whereas in the US
and Australia cases, the earnings of
their legislators is 2 and 4 times the
average national per capita income
respectively!
So both in quantitative and qualitative
terms the earnings of our legislators
are unjustifiable as they are
criminally indefensible! And on this
account of their unconscionable and
inhuman earnings [contrast this with
the miserable 18,000 Naira minimum
wage that is not even being paid and
that different state and federal
MDAs are complaining they are unable
to pay; or contrast with the earned
allowances of University Lecturers at
N87bn that is being owed to ASUU
members, etc]; on the account of
these unearned payments to our
legislators, none of the arguments
that they have come up with makes
any sense in a sane society, or to any
sane person!
Some of them have said the demands
on legislators by their constituents is
immense, hence the need for
resources that will enable them meet
those demands! What fallacy? What
nonsense! Create the enabling
environment for the economy to grow,
be productive and create sustainable
jobs and livelihoods; and block all
leakages and waste in public
expenditure, including putting an end
to corruption; and there will be not
just drastic reduction in poverty levels
and jobless rates; but as well as there
will be no more demands made on
politicians by the electorates to
cushion the effect of poverty!
Let us go a bit further; in the last 8
years, over N1tn has been
appropriated by the NASS [this works
out to N100bn annually over four
years; and N150bn annually over the
subsequent four years]!
Furthermore, over the last ten [10]
years, more than N900bn, just slightly
less than N1tn has been spent on
constituency projects of members of
the National assembly alone! In 2013
for instance, there are listed in the
Federal Budget breakdown, 2,399
constituency projects for the National
Assembly! If we assume a flat rate of
1,500 constituency projects per
annum, over the last 10 years, this
will come to over 15,000 constituency
projects in total. If we assume a more
or less equitable distribution per
LGAs, this should leave us with an
average of more than 17 constituency
projects per LGA!
The question to ask is that where are
these constituency projects? What has
been their impact on constituency
development, on community
development, or on national
development? With nearly N1tn
investment on constituency
development over ten years, and about
17 such projects per LGA, why has
poverty rate grown from 54% in 2004
to 70% in 2012? Why did the
unemployment rate increase from 8%
in 1999 to 24% in 2011? Why did the
Housing Deficit skyrocket from less
than 10 million housing units before
the present democratic dispensation,
to the over 18 million housing units
currently?
It is important that we pose these
questions and pose them stringently,
and now? It is even more important
the national discourse around the
absurdly high cost of governance be
undertaken in the context of cost
efficiency, value for money, and
impact of governance on our economy
as a people, and on our lives as
citizens!
For we must factor in the fact that
this nearly N1tn investment on
constituency development over a 10
year period, is in addition to the more
than tens, if not hundreds [in total]
of combined public investment
[including regular and special
intervention funds] in national
development since 1999 by all the
three tiers of government! In the
period since 2007 for instance, more
than N2tn in special intervention
funds have been injected into the
economy by the Federal Government
alone!
Where has all these moneys/funds/
resources gone into? Into what use
have they been put? What have been
the tangible and or intangible
impacts?
Is the impact to be measured in the
more than N5tn lost to corruption in
the two years between July 2010 and
June 2012? At a shocking monthly
Treasury Looting Rate of nearly
N220bn? Or is it to be found in the
nearly 12,000 abandoned Federal
projects at a whopping cost of over
N7.7tn [for which N2.2tn has already
been paid in mobilisation fees] that
litters the national territory? Or are
we to discover the impact in the
obscene, sudden, ill-gotten wealth of
the new-rich?
Under these circumstances, the cost
of maintaining these treasury looting
political elites and their business elite
cohorts can only be described as
monument to waste and the
embodiment of national profligacy.
In these context, with a thieving and
gluttonous ruling class interested only
in lining its own pockets [along with
the pockets of their most senior
prebendal clientele]; it is up to us
ordinary citizens, victims of their
profligacy, gross ineptitude, and crass
incompetence, to pick up the gauntlet,
take our destiny back into our own
hands; and take urgent and concrete
steps to Take Back Nigeria; and in our
own live time!
When we abandon politics to
riffraff’s, and governance to selfish
pilferers, the result is mass poverty,
mass homelessness, mass joblessness,
and a level of insecurity which directly
reflects the degree of alienation of
citizens from society.
And against the background of the
growing ferment in society, among the
victims of their misrule; against the
background of the increasing
deepening implosion among the
thieving elites; we can only reiterate
that ‘this is the time to reflect, to
rethink, and to ACT’; and in our own
interests, for once!

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