The Legislative arm of Government over the years has been seen as the arm of Government that is most extravagant, from their salaries to other allowances, it is alarming what they earn. Though we are not saying they should be paid peanuts both their spending have to be scrutinized, but the question has always been, who will query these ‘legislative tyrants’? Until the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi stressed the economic implication of the unprecedented high and outrageous recurrent expenditure of the current National Assembly put at twenty five percent of Nigeria’s annual budget.
On hearing this, members of the National Assembly have been bullying the CBN Governor for the statement, inviting and demanding for an apology for saying the truth. They are saying that it is eighteen percent, others saying otherwise. The actual percentage might not be known now but the truth remains that whatever it is, has to be controlled now for the sake of the future.
Constitutional Lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay had earlier revealed that a legislator in the National Assembly, Abuja, Nigeria, earns far more than the United States President, Barack Obama. He expressed grief that a Nigerian Senator, in 2009 earned N240 million in salaries and allowances annually while his house of representatives counterpart earned N203.8 million annually, which is $1.7 million for Senator and $1.45 million per annum. The US President earns $400,000.00 while the British Prime Minister earns 190,000 pounds, how can a senator in Nigeria earn more than the US President or the British PM? He summed thus that at the end of 2009, the Federal Legislature received a total of N102.8 billion comprising N11.8 billion as salaries and N90.96 billion as allowances which was five percent of the our budget.
What is touchier than the argument is not whether it is 25 percent or 5 percent, what is of paramount concern to the tax payer is, what value are this 469 people adding to the lives of the 150 million plus that are not there? How do we reduce this expenditure to the barest minimum? Let’s leave the financial excesses for a while and even look at the proposed constitution amendment by the National Assembly.
This present NA is not ready to amend anything, this present legislature are out to sap the treasury and put all of us in penury, they have lost their moral authority from the populace as Sagay reminded us all that, their greatest authority was moral; being the conscience of the nation and protector of the sovereignty of the people. This they have lost; how do they regain it? I personally don’t think they care about morality which is supposed to be the core basis for legislating, we should be concerned about the next generation of law makers not these ones.
Drawing inspiration from Human Right Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA on it called “part-time” Legislature. We should have our law maker be on part-time whereby they will be paid per seating, that way some of these excesses can be curtailed.
Another is the constant invitation of key government officials who have express logical and confirmable accusations of financial indiscretion against them. They quickly unite to make life hell for these persons, thereby forcing them out of office. What we should see from all this is the need to bring down the expenditure and for Legislature to be more productive and appealing to the common man.
We also expect the National Assembly to be very quick in handling issues of high importance to the general public just like they are when it is their gains that they are after. We seek a high level of commitment from them, the truth of the matter is they can deliver no doubt but they lack the drive and readiness to make the difference.
Come May 29th 2010 we expect a different legislature that will not only be reliable but also be our pride and true conscience.