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TheCable

Our legislators are rogues

March 09
21:04 2015

On Friday, March 6, I saw a bevy of cars at the Murtala Muhammed international Airport tollgate. On closer look, I discovered that they were part of the convoy of our Senate President, the Rt. Hon. David Mark as he vacuously addresses himself in official correspondence.

After counting eight cars, I gave up, as the opulence on display was sickening. Indeed, I saw two cars that were occupied by one person each and with the level of depletion of our foreign resources, it seemed wicked that our number three citizen is still living in such affluence.

Just last week, Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, at the opening ceremony of a two-day seminar organized by the State Accountability and Voice Initiative, a United Kingdom Department for International Development funded programme said that our senators and representatives have graciously cut down their overhead budget by 25% to free up more funds for capital expenditure.

Good one but Mr. Ekweremadu did not disclose the original budget figure so that we could know how much was actually cut. To show us that they are truly Lords of Manor, he rubbed it in further by saying “This year, because our money is on first line charge and comes as statutory transfer, the executive could not have tampered with it. They brought our overhead the way it should be in the 2015 Appropriation Bill.

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“Truly, due to the separation of power principles, it is good and commendable that the legislative arm can control its budget but our experience has not confirmed that our situation has improved. Two mother major instances have shown that just like their counterparts in the executive arm, our legislators don’t go to Abuja to serve the interest of their long-suffering citizens.

Just last month, as it completed the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly approved a life pension for anybody who has held office as President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Globally, most countries only allow the executive heads to draw a life pension and adding the legislative heads to this list in Nigeria is a burden on our resources, another waste we cannot afford.

My suspicion is that perhaps, Mark has seen the handwriting on the wall that he might either not return to the Senate or not emerge as the president in the next Assembly and so had to make provision for his time in sunset.

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By the way, for the apostles of ‘change’, we do not have it on record that APC members in the National Assembly spoke out against the amendment just as they have not stopped collecting humongous amount of money as constituency allowance.

The second is in Lagos State and which as a tax-paying resident of the state, I’m actually exploring if there is a way one can seek redress in court.

According to Sahara Reporters website on March 3, a bill has been introduced in the Lagos State House of Assembly to approve luxurious lifelong benefits to the legislative body’s speaker and deputy speaker.

The bill proposes pensions that amount to 100 percent of their annual basic salary for life, after their tenure expires. Now, what do you make of this? Blatant stealing and armed robbery, simple.

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The website adds “the two legislative officials are also meant to receive unlimited allowance for furnishing their free homes, security personnel for life, and free medical treatment for the officials and their families for life. Other obscene benefits include additional allowances for housing maintenance, vehicle maintenance, and entertainment—each category calculated at 10 percent of the officials’ base salary. The officials’ utility allowance is at 20 percent of their base salary.

In addition, the bill stipulates that the state governor and deputy governor as well as their families would receive free medical treatment for life. All designated members of the state leadership would have pensionable drivers for life as well.
The scandalous bill is cited as “the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law 2007 (Amendment) Law 2015.”

What piqued me is that nearly all the 40 members of the assembly belong to APC, a party that has been harping on the need to rescue Nigeria from corruption’s grip. I think it is high time we made legislative business part-time, as they have become leeches sucking us dry.

To compound our woes, we do not seem to interrogate the National Assembly candidates the way we are dissecting and analyzing presidential candidates. This too must change.

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2 Comments

  1. Musuru
    Musuru March 10, 03:58

    The media is not using it’s influence to inform Nigerians in a strong manner, the armed robbery and wastefulness of the National Assembly. A lot of people do not know how these legislative rogues are milking us dry! We need more frontpage headlines exposing what they are doing there. Awon ole, from head to toe!

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  2. Sunny
    Sunny March 13, 06:03

    It is high time the Nigerian populace made the piticians in appointed positio. Accountable. They need to be aware that it is a great honour to be appointed to serve the people. They are not there to be lording it over the people that appointed them. If they’d teal they should be made to pay back

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