Home africa #Endsars: Now that incorrigible looters are being held accountable (1)

#Endsars: Now that incorrigible looters are being held accountable (1)

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#Endsars: Now that incorrigible looters are being held accountable (1)


Femi Orebe

 

As I did last week, I once again commiserate with families that have lost loved ones while also praying that the Almighty God will grant the dead eternal rest.

To this list we must now add the hundreds, if not thousands of innocent souls who have needlessly been made to lose their means of likelihood, many of who must have borrowed hugely to set up their businesses, small or large.

It is time to make the miscreants face the full weight of the law because not even hunger can justify the humingous amount of brigandage witnessed in the country in the last two weeks.

Having said that it must quickly be mentioned how, apart from the Lekki shootings which was the last straw that broke the camel’s back and set Nigeria straight on the road to Golgotha,  many  security vehicles were seen on video ferrying thugs and most of the  looters and arsonists now being aggressively bundled together, to the various sites where they accomplished the incomparable mayhem we saw especially in Lagos.

There is no way the Nigerian security forces can wash their hands clean in this total fiasco and it is hoped that they will not escape their well deserved comeuppance.

Having said that let us now proceed to see how various arms of our unrighteous governments, through gross injustice, which last week we described as intrinsic to all we just witnessed, laid a solid foundation for the fiasco which set back Nigeria by trillions of naira, not to mention vital documents that have become completely irrecoverable and legacy buildings incinerated beyond recognition.

Most irritating of these is the totally insensate National Assembly whose members have been crawling all over the place , claiming to be sympathising with state governments whose capitals now look more like war theatres. Gallivanting all over the place are both Senate President Lawan and House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, neither of who made the ‘mistake’ of referring to their loot- like salaries and allowances even when it  formed a critical part of the ENDSARS brigade demands , in a country which not only went into recession in the past five years but which those who should know now say is, unerringly, going into another, as it is guaranteed to borrow more than half its total annual ’21 budget to be able to fund it at all.

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Just in case these legislators, about the highest earning legislators anywhere on the face of the earth,  are so unconscionable, and insensitive they dont know, we have to let them know that their lootocracy can no longer be sustained. I capture below how the respected Dr Dele Cole, who you cannot accuse of being flippant, captured what these locusts unconscionably take home annually in a September 20, 2020 article in the Vanguard:

“Breakdown of what a Nigerian senator earns:

Running cost

Newspaper Allowance – N1.24m

Wardrobe allowance – N0.62m

Recess allowance – N0.25m

Accommodation – N4.97m

Utilities – N0.83m

Domestic staff – N1.86m

Entertainment – N0.83m

Personal assistant – N0.62m

Vehicle mtce allowance – N1.86m

Leave allowance – N0.25m

Total running cost – N13.58m/month. This adds up to N162.96m annually

Consolidated salary

He goes home with N750,000 monthly. This sum up to N9m annually. He claims he is entitled to N200m annually to execute projects which are the duty of the Executive.

Summary

Salary – N9,000,000 per annum

Running allowance: N163,000,000 per annum

Constituency projects : N200,000,000 per annum

Total: N372,000,000 per annum. This amount is over N1,000,000 every day, including Sundays when he is in church/mosque.

He also gets these:

Severance gratuity – N7.43m

Furniture allowance – N7.45m

Motor vehicle allowance – N9.94m

Total: N24 million plus

Nigerian House of Representatives Salary: The basic salary of a House of Representative member receives include: Personal assistant, constituency, vehicle fueling/maintenance, domestic staff, entertainment, recess, newspaper/periodicals, utilities, houses maintenance, vehicle loan, furniture, wardrobe, duty tour, accommodation, etc.

Speaker, House of Representatives: The head of Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber, the speaker, receives N4,954,220:00 (N4.95m) annually and N412,851:66 monthly, excluding allowances.

Members of the House of Representatives: Members of the lower legislative chamber, according to RMAFC, receive N9,529,038:06 (N9.5m) as annual pay and N704,086:83 every month as allowances

Nigeria’s healthcare budgdet is N46 billion for 200 million people: Nigeria’s Education budget is N48 billion for 200 million people, Nigeria’s legislators budget is N125 billion for 465 people”.

Rather than publish here a nebulous comparison of parliamentarians worldwide, let us press  BudgIT– a  highly reputable, local start-up focused on making budgetary information accessible to Nigerians,

into action in an analysis it did just before  the  beginning of the Buhari administration.

It wrote as follows: “Nigerian legislators, among the world’s top paid, receive annual salaries of between $150,000 to $190,000 per annum depending on exchange rates. At current exchange rates Nigerian lawmakers, would earn around $160,000 more than British MPs who make around $105,000 according to data from The Economist. In fact, until plunging oil prices started putting pressure on the Nigerian naira earlier this year, the Nigerian lawmakers were the second highest paid lawmakers in the world. The average legislators’ pay is more than 50 times Nigeria‘s GDP per capita. In a country where millions live on less than two dollars daily and minimum wage is set at $90 a month, the legislator’s bumper pay has been described as outrageous. The campaign for a cut in the National Assembly’s funds as a new government comes in is fitting as President Buhari, who will earn less than the lawmakers, has a reputation for being modest and austere”.

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The main thrust of the #OpenNASS campaign is for the National Assembly to open its books to allow for an assessment of its finances and possibly advocate for cuts particularly in a period of financial uncertainties which has seen the country struggle to pay salaries”.

“Between 2011 and 2014, the National Assembly received N150 billion yearly but will receive N120 billion in 2015 according to the recently passed 2015 budget. BudgIT’s estimation also shows that since 1999, the National Assembly has received about N1.26 trillion yet there has been little accountability.

But all that could change soon as the #OpenNASS campaign has won significant support from Bukola Saraki, the popular choice to to takeover from David Mark as Senate President. He even tweeted his support”.

All that was in vain.

The yearly allocation for the National Assembly, which has less than 10,000 individuals on its payroll, surpasses the annual budgets of 21 of Nigeria’s 36 states including Katsina, Benue and Jigawa all with populations of more than 4 million people.

While the country deals with financial issues which can be traced back to the slump in global crude oil prices, the National Assembly experiences few problems as its fund is in a special category called statutory transfer which mandates the federal government, after receiving revenues, to make the legislators’ funds immediately available before other considerations. ”This campaign is not about an individual, rather it is about instituting a culture where public finance and accountability are inextricably linked; it is about leaders’ responsibility to taxpayers,” says Stanley Achonu, operations lead at BudgIT. The National Assembly only managed to pass 106 bills out of the 1,063 it reviewed in the last four years”.

“The calls for accountability from the National Assembly will resonate with millions of Nigerians who are keen to see public service holders live less luxurious lives while the majority of their countrymen wallow in poverty”.

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We would stop here today but in the meantime let us ask a few questions:

Are these people so conscience dead they cannot self adjust?

Must they wait for another #ENDNASSPAY protest which might see a rehash of all we just saw before they come to their senses and realise that today, Nigeria literally survives on Chinese loans?

And finally, is the Buhari government so helpless, unconcerned or simply so  clueless it has no answer to this absolutely nauseating matter?

Is it so afraid of the National Assembly it cannot think a way out of this national embarrassment?

What exactly is it this National Assembly sits down full time to do with hardly a third of its members ever present at its plenary sessions and why in the name of God dont we adopt a unicameral legislature as in Nigeria’s First Republic?

Must a literally sleep walking arm of government that lives in indescribable profligacy be allowed to consume more resources than Education and Health in a  country of 200M people? Did we as a people, in twice electing him,  outrageously over estimate President Buhari’s capacity to rule us with equity and justice?

No. Baloney!

Am not suggesting that the President is a military Head of state. But we trusted him to do right by us. After all he is the leader of the APC which controls both chambers of the National Assembly. He appointed the members of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal commission. Even assuming he cannot do anything unilaterally, what of by moral suation?

This obviously is one of the negative consequences of President Buhari giving the party no space in his government but rather relying so heavily on his self serving kitchen cabinet which many prefer to call a cabal. How on earth can President Buhari be comfortable living with such an extravagantly expensive arm of government, earning higher than their counterparts in countries which do not need to borrow, home and abroad to survive, and do nothing about it?

This is one of the many questions that baffle Nigerians about the Buhari administration.

 

TO BE CONTD.



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