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Holy Moses! How on earth can Nigeria survive when a Senator carts home N170.4m yearly?

What exactly is the worth of a Nigerian legislator’s service to his constituents or to the country as a whole?

I did not manufacture those figures. Rather, it is maximum commendation to Senator Shehu Sani, the only man of conscience in our senate of rabid takers who, for the very first time since 1999, in spite of the dozens of self proclaimed activists and ‘lovers of the masses’, who had adorned that otherwise historic institution in our country, had the pang of conscience to disclose what a predatory group of people Nigerians have for legislators.

In articles after articles, I have written my fingers sore on these pages urging Nigerians to simply: storm this Bastille of gluttons.

The first Nigerians got to have a wink of what a preposterous percentage of the national cake the members self awarded themselves, was when then CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, informed Nigerians that the sinkhole was qgobbling no less than 25% of Federal government overheads. In a subsequent analysis of that figure, which was found substantially correct – of the then federal overhead of N536.2 billion, the National Assembly was getting N136.2 billion – a team of Vanguard newspaper reporters – Jide Ajani, Ben Agande & Luka Binniyat, in an article published on 4 December, 2010, concluded that “there is a disconnect between what members allocated to themselves in the annual budget and the responsibilities they have discharged on behalf of the long-suffering people of Nigeria”. The report went further to recall that this is a legislature (House) described by a former House member, Gabriel Suswan, at a lecture at the University of Abuja, as a pack of “un- educated and immature” people, where less than 20 out of its 360 members make useful contributions at plenary session or sponsor motions or bills”.

The senate can only be slightly different.

Holy Moses!

If there was controversy when now Emir Sanusi made that disclosure, not again as Sen. Shehu Sani has laid it all bare: each of our senators swallows a minimum N170.4 million yearly. That figure should be far less than what 360 members gulp annually in the House.

Below is a recap of Shehu Sani’s interview and, if his conscienceless colleagues decide to suspend him like forever, he should be more than satisfied that he has cast his name in gold in the annals of Nigerian history.

For the first time, according to a story posted on WWW. Naija, reporting an article by THE News magazine, a member of the National Assembly has revealed the huge amount Nigerian senators earn.

The Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, damned all consequences as he revealed how much he and his colleagues receive monthly. In an interview with TheNEWS magazine, he said each Senator receives N13.5 million monthly besides their over N700, 000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances.

“I think what we can say is that the running cost of a senator is N13.5 million every month,” said Sani in response to the question on the bogus salaries and allowances of Nigerian lawmakers. According to him, while there is no specific instruction on what the fund should be used for, lawmakers must provide receipts to back up their expenses from the running costs, adding that this is in addition to funds earmarked for each senator for constituency projects.

“But, continues the senator, what I am saying is that the money (N13.5 million per month) must be receipted for what you do with it. But what you are given to go and spend without any accountability is N750,000.00. “The constituency project itself is given on a zonal basis and almost every Senator will go with a constituency fund of about N200 million. “You will be told that you have N200 million with an agency of government for which you will now submit projects equivalent to that amount. And it is that agency of government that will go and do those projects for you. (Yes senator,Nigerians know what you are talking about. They have been scammed for far too long not to know when the rain started beating them).

“Now, the corruption comes, said Sani, when the projects are not done (as is mostly the case), and the money is taken. But right now, it is difficult to do that because NGOs and transparency groups have come into it. They track every allocation made to you and where they are being used. (as if these too are not manned by Nigerians).

And his conscience takes over, but certainly not that of his remaining 108 colleagues: “But I can tell you that I would love a situation where we do away with running costs, constituency projects and leaves senators and members of House of Reps with salaries.Q

“There are issues that we need to understand. First, I don’t believe that members of the National or even state assemblies should be involved in carrying out what is called constituency projects.

“When people are elected into the National Assembly, they should just be involved in law making, raising motions, bills and also performing oversight functions. But we live in a society where people cannot differentiate between the legislators and the executive. “When the people come to you, they want you to build roads, dig boreholes, build hospitals, schools, give money, pay school fees for them. Now, if we have a society in which people will stop asking legislators to do those things, then there is no need for the allowances.

“If we can be done with that, it would be okay. Now, you are talking of bogus salaries and bogus allowances – there are three steps you need to consider – the first has to do with the fact when you represent the people, expectations arose from your immediate and the larger constituencies. “But I agree with you that the salaries and allowances of lawmakers should not be discreet {secret}, but what is discreet about it when you can write to Resource and Fiscal Mobilisation Commission to get everything about what a senator earns? (Not just that the thoroughly ineffective agency will give you bogus figures if at all it responds, the Speaker of the House is known to have once played ‘ boju boju’ – hide and seek- with these figures, authorising the release of only the basic salary).

“The only money you are not expected to account for is your salary and the salary of a senator is about N750, 000.00 per month. The other one, the running cost of office, must be accounted for. You must provide a receipt for every expense you make.” (again for a small fee, even a petrol attendant will give you receipt for any amount of your choice even if you discount the fact that many of these our current legislators could be printing their own receipts, be it for sand or steel).

The critical questions then are these:

What exactly is the worth of a Nigerian legislator’s service to his constituents or to the country as a whole?

What have they effectively done, and how has this mostly riotous 8th assembly, which had all the time in the world to line behind a senate President defending self against corruption before a court, impacted our lives?

How long have they sat on critical bills like the Petroleum Industry Bill, bills on recovered loots and allied anti corruption bills?

On an average, despite constitutional provisions, how many times does the most conscientious of our legislators attend plenary?

What should Nigerians do with/to this absolutely unnecessary distraction that gulps so much of funds that could have gone into infrastructure procurement, much better roads, good health care delivery system, an educational system rather than one conspicuous for lack of basic necessities and, forever suffused with incessant strikes?

Shouldn’t we, for instance, just ask the senate to pack up and the House turned to a part time arm of government?

What exactly, beyond perception, is its use to society? Shall we lose anything if both chambers are abolished, and in their place the people create a chamber of experienced technocrats to assist the executive, while an expanded council of state, rather than being advisory, is empowered to put the executive under some rigorous check?

No, I am acutely aware of the law making role of the legislature but how have these self serving legislators made life better for the ordinary Nigerian through laws?

And, finally, shouldn’t Nigerians just say: ENOUGH, NO MORE, and under the lead of civil societies, together with market women, Nigerian students and the, forever, traumatised hoi polloi, just move en mass , one day, and sack this unhelpful arm of government?


posted from Bloggeroid

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