Guilty as charged!
Poor Nigerians got a rare mention at the National Assembly recently. The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, on June 21, shared some hard truths concerning the income of government officials. He claimed that federal lawmakers and other highly placed public officers were earning jumbo wages to the detriment of the Nigerian populace.
Ndume said: “In the current system, workers are not being paid living wages, whereas a privileged few are earning luxury wages. The National Assembly members, including me, for instance, are paid luxury wages.“
His revelations came as a reaction to the views expressed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on June 19 that the country’s present governance structure is expensive and unsustainable. Ndume averred that he had always held a similar view, and that Osinbajo had vindicated his position on the high cost of running a presidential democracy.
The former Senate leader went on to illustrate his claims, saying: “We have a budget of N10tn and only 30 per cent is going to the majority, whereas 70 per cent will be spent on a few minority. The system we are practising now is not fair either morally or socially.”
Ndume’s bitter confessions are a product of bravery. It is rare for a Senator who has been a beneficiary of a system, for years, to come clean and fault it in the way he did.
It is, however, not enough for Ndume to call out his colleagues. Many political watchers think he should take even a bigger step by rallying fellow Senators who share his views and, while at it, initiate a bill that would see to a radical change in the present governance structure that encourages massive leakages in the system.
Nonetheless, his confessions should serve to address some pertinent questions. Will Ndume and colleagues choose to commit political suicide and give up the outrageous sums of money they have cunningly allocated to themselves for the benefit of poor Nigerians? Indeed, will they be willing to migrate from a bicameral legislature to a unicameral one? How about the aspiration to revisit the country’s governance structure through calls for a constitutional conference?
As these questions beg for answers, it is hoped that Ndume was not grandstanding and only seeking cheap popularity and relevance? To prove critics wrong is a task he must accomplish having branded himself as representing ‘the good, the bad and the ugly.’
NASS MEMORY LANE:
“Senators and House of Representatives members are elected by the people. Of course, some elites will say they are rogues, but we have subjected ourselves to democratic process to be elected by the people?”
Answer: see end of post.
Two other stories
Listen, Mr President, listen!
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, is not relenting in his quest to invigorate the fight against insecurity which is making life hellish for people in the North.
Last week, while fielding questions from journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, he argued that having funded security agencies without commensurate results, the leadership of those institutions must then be sacked if they fail to resign.
Lawan said: “If after we provide some support and someone is found short of expectations, he should be shown the way out if he refuses to go because the lives of Nigerians are so precious and therefore must be more important than any other considerations or sentiments. I believe that today, the most essential thing in government is to address the security challenges.”
He advocated for a time frame on dealing with the nation’s security challenge while urging security chiefs to sit up and be alive to their responsibilities. Not-too-long ago, the Senate President had also, indirectly, called for the sack of the security chiefs.
Understandably, Lawan appears to have lost faith – just like most Nigerians – in the ability of the security chiefs to tame the tide of insecurity ravaging the North and the country at large.
He may not have called the security chiefs by name but it is quite clear what he is communicating by his body language. Why Buhari has refused to sack the security chiefs, even when their tenure has elapsed, is a question that keeps playing up on the leaps of many observers.
On June 29, the Emir of Daura (Katsina State), Dr. Umar Farouk Umar, described the insecurity in the country as worse than civil war. Does the president need anymore proof of the mess the country is roped in? Perhaps, not!
On Obidigwe’s call
During a plenary at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, last week, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe added his voice to the call for strengthening of laws to protect women against rape, trafficking, prostitution and all forms of vices.
Obidigwe, a representative of Anambra East and West Federal Constituency, stressed that women are builders of families.
He said: “We all have mothers. We have sisters and we have wife or wives. All these people are women. Injury to one woman is an injury to all. Let’s do all we can as lawmakers to ensure that strong laws are made and implemented to protect our women and children.”
The calls to make strong legislations to protect women from sexual vices cannot be overemphasized. It is an acknowledged fact that several rapists go on with their nefarious acts because there are no strong and enforceable laws to stop them. Nothing would checkmate the vulnerability of women to these abuses than strong legislations. Hence, Obidigwe’s call is timely.
However, it is not enough for him to make this call. It would be commendable for him to put the icing on the cake by initiating a bill on the floor of the House to address this societal ill, or seek to sharpen an existing one where there are perceived flaws. It behooves Obidigwe to do the needful.
Answer: Senator Ajibola Bashiru
Ajibola Bashiru represents Osun Central at the Red Chambers of the National Assembly. He made the statement on February 27, 2020, while speaking on the supposed jumbo pay of federal lawmakers.
By John Chukwu…
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