By Rotimi Fasan
DO you know that it costs tax payers 290 million Naira yearly to maintain each member of our National Assembly in a country where nothing works and 80per cent of the population earn below N300 a day?
A working month earning of a senator is more than a yearly income of a doctor (sic); it’s more than the salary of 42 Army generals or 48 professors or 70 commissioners of police or more than twice the pay of the US president or nine times the salary of US congress men. Please say no to looting of Nigeria in the name of democracy by sending this text to at least five others.’
The foregoing is a version of the kind of sms text messages that have been flying round the nooks and crannies of this country since Nigeria’s law breakers who see themselves as law makers started their ill-advised attempt at the National Assembly to deny their complicity in the looting of this country and the equally foolish and insulting ploy by them to bully and intimidate the Central Bank Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for calling attention to the fact that these conclave of self-serving people is responsible for at least 25 percent of the recurrent overhead of the Nigerian government.
Rather than realising that the game is up and finding a way to address the questions raised by their unconscionable depletion of the national treasury, the legislators in Abuja chose to further pull the wool over the face of the longsuffering people of this country by trying to bully the CBN Governor who first called attention to the matter into indecent denial of the statement.
Did I say the CBN Governor was the first to call attention to the grasping conduct of the Abuja law breakers?
That’s not exactly correct. Many Nigerians, including other members of the ruling establishment, such as President Obasanjo, who are themselves, sometimes, guilty of the financial abuse of the country have called attention to the same issue in the past.
But more importantly, the majority of Nigerians are aware of the lavish lifestyles of the Abuja politicians and others in other parts of the country; they can see how this people carefully and diligently strive at making laws that allow them to take huge sums from the national treasury by way of sitting allowance, constituency allowance and other types of allocations disguised under both legitimate and illegitimate labels- Nigerians know all too well how these allowances are carefully parcelled into the private accounts of politicians.
So, the bit by Malam Sanusi did not come as anything new; it was just yet another confirmation of what all already knew, only this time from an official s
Well, are the claims made in the sms text true in every particular? I can’t say. The figures might be less than the politicians are taking; they might be more. Nobody knows. And this is precisely because it’s the way the people in government want it. They prefer to work by the ethic of cultists and make a secret of every action they take in their official capacity.
It has been a long time pattern of governance in this country. The Official Secret Act, with its roots in colonial Nigeria, became a potent tool of concealment of usually criminal conduct by government officials who would, after the departure of the colonialists, go on to enact all kinds of laws curtailing basic freedoms of the people. The operation of the Secret Act in ‘post-colonial’ Nigeria has been no different from the use to which mafia chiefs put their omerta.
But that should not be surprising because many of Nigeria’s politicians, we were once told by Senator Aliyu Waziri, a former Inspector General of Police, were persons under surveillance for criminal activities. The Senator said he had investigated such persons who now make ‘laws’ at the National Assembly in the past.
He made that claim about some of his own colleagues even if he would later back down on providing relevant dossier, apparently warned that ‘dogs do not eat dogs’, by other members of the political class. The soldiers who made Decree 4 also thought in this same fashion of cultists who think everything must be kept secret as are those now making it impossible for the Freedom of Information Bill to see the day.
The National Assembly people grossly underestimate the degree of anger among Nigerians. They imagine what is at stake is the usual game of old when people get angry only to forget after a while. What people see, contrary to what our politicians see, is their gradual impoverishment, sequel to their enslavement by people with neither the right, moral authority nor education to occupy their present position.
They are justifiably angry and do not need to be incited by anybody into precipitate action. They do not need Sanusi to stir them as the Assembly people in Abuja want to believe. They wear the shoe of poverty, neglect and serial abuse by their politicians, to know where it pinches. Their righteous anger is the stuff of revolutionary action and Sanusi’s warning ought to be seen as a labour of love for people, as the politicians, made deaf by gods bent on destroying them.
In this age of instant message, Facebook and Twitter, the battle would be total and instant. The sms texts making the rounds is one sign of things to come but our politicians, never semioticians, are blind to such signifiers. They’ll wait, as in time past, until it all explodes in their face. Of course by then, nobody needs tell the proverbial blind man that ‘the market has ended’.
At least he can hear if he can’t see! We are moving gradually to that pass and the likes of the Reps members who decided that they expend but 15 percent and not 25 percent of national overhead as claimed by Sanusi- their likes can continue in their delusion while Senator Ayogu Eze thinks the matter is one of salary cut.
Transparency International in its latest report names Nigeria as one of the four most corrupt countries in the world, yet our politicians continue to play kalango while Nigeria burns. Indeed those the gods want to destroy, they first make mad.