As I sat down thinking of what to wear in attending a dinner tomorrow in honour of my beloved country, I was knocked over by a news item in the Punch Newspaper which read:
“Sallah: Group berates N3m bonus for each Rep”
The news piece by one Bisi Olaniyi also claimed that the Senators were taking home 20 million and the Reps were taking home about 12 million naira monthly. If these claims are through, then I am utterly shocked at the impunity with which our elected officials are un-authoritatively allocating scarce resources to themselves as the epitomes of the wellbeing of their constituencies. You mean these things are happening under our very noses and no one is rising up to challenge the status quo? What is the basis for giving such largess to Assembly members? Are they all Muslims who require such motivations to celebrate the season as a prerequisite for acute judgment in dealing with the complex issues of the country? Or maybe the non-Muslims collected this as a symbol of one Nigeria: “what they get we get”? I mean can someone please tell me what is the justification for these monies transferring from public ownership to private pockets? Or can someone explain to me where these resources where taken from?
It seems to me that there is a deliberate conspiracy by leadership against the entire country. I say this because no where else in the world does this happen in a professed democracy. It may be condoned in a monarchy, since the king in that case is the sovereign, but even the Queen of England cannot call the House of Common and the House of Lords and show them her appreciation by doling out from the Royal treasury about 13,000 Pounds for each to celebrate Christmas with. Nigeria always seems to blaze the trail with dangerous traditions and precedence and we always seem to have an explanation for every brutal policy meted out against the Nigerian people. Someone indeed had identified this as a “Rogue Republic” and I differed on the basis that it was an extreme characterization of the Nigerian polity. But now I am already slanting the seesaw of my opinion in that direction because I cannot seem to understand how our leaders think.
How can leadership, in whatever capacity bold-facedly use public funds to rub the backs of our servants? Don’t we pay them salaries more than we pay ourselves? Don’t we already furnish them apartments in the capital city and give them cars and all kinds of allowances to ensure they focus on policy making? What else should we do as a people that we haven’t done already? When we sent them there, if at all we did, we looked forward to an assurance that our collective interests were being catered for and that they will prevail on leadership to open up opportunities for us and our children. So just like that almost a billion naira was spent securing the few days of Sallah holidays for these legislators? Does anyone know that that amount alone can successfully create a huge plantain plantation somewhere in the country that can secure our local consumption and expand the export frontiers for the product? I am really upset right now because a sensible mind would assess the situation in terms of the opportunity forgone to better the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Give me that money and I can get 10 health centers in 10 rural communities, or provide a 100 boreholes in the rural areas of Northern Nigeria, or build 5 Secondary and 5 Primary schools, or establish a good science laboratory for 10 schools, or………………
Now I am, beginning to see how revolutions starts in societies. If I can feel this way, I can begin to imagine how many more people are getting frustrated by the kind of men who lead us. The day that the streets are covered with people whose endurance has thinned out, then that day will be that of judgment; when everyone that has robbed us and conspired against our existence will be made to pay for what they have done. As we say in politics: “Time does not run against the state.” Even if they die, time will stand on our side and exhume their actions for appropriate measures. See what they do… see them frolicking around with wealth gathered by squeezing the sweat off the labouring man and then making them pay again to sustain his irresponsibility. They are bold to speak now, and are bold to splatter their flamboyance on the pages of glossy opulent magazines……. Let somebody warn them please. The monkey is not assured of retuning from the market square, thus it should find alternate routes to do so.
Let me at this point give an advice to our legislators who may not have those they are accountable to. In the words of Lee Kuan Yew: “Leaders must have a sense of trusteeship that they are only temporarily in charge of the destinies of their people, and that their duty is not only to discharge that trust, but also to pass it on to equally trustworthy and competent hands.” They shouldn’t forget that our destinies are tied to their performance during their tenures. If they fail, we have have failed, and if they succeed we have succeeded. However, I am sure these men already know right from wrong, but something else guides them other than servant-hood. With time we will discover and know who the axe will fall upon.
As we celebrate a country at 48, I thought foolishness drops from the pocket of a forty year old. But it seems to me we still carry a couple of them; not in pockets this time, but within our national structures. As for this kind of foolishness…..we need badly A ‘ROD’ OF CORRECTION!!!