By Ebele Orakpo
This headline on a national daily attracted the attention of commuters. First to comment was Mark who wondered aloud why our so-called representatives are so concerned about making money instead of doing the job they were sent there to do in the first place.
Said Mark: â€œThe story says another trouble is rearing its ugly head in the House of Representatives because some members are asking the leadership to raise the quarterly allowance of each of the 360 members to N42 million. Is this not pure madness?
In a country where most peopleÂ live below the poverty line; where poverty tie wrapper as our people would say. Itâ€™s unbelievable to say the least.â€
â€œI read somewhere that the new poverty line is $1.25 a day and statistics show that 64.4% of Nigerians live on less than this amount a day while 83.9 per cent live on less than $2.00 a day. Thatâ€™s very encouraging for a country that makes so much money from oil,â€ said Tony sarcastically.
Said Tunji: â€œ$1.25 is roughly N185.00. Now tell me honestly, how many people can boast of that in a day? Not many I tell you. There is poverty in the land and instead of our elected or selected officials tackling it, they are fighting for their stomachs.â€
â€œAccording to the story, each lawmaker receives N27.9m every quarter, besides another N4.9bn (about N1.3m per legislator) as monthly salary,â€ stated Mark.
â€œWhat?! And that is not enough? Iâ€™m most flabbergasted Iâ€™m sure 90 per cent of people in this country donâ€™t even see that in a year. And how much do they say they want now?â€ asked Ugo.
â€œTo meet the new demand, they will need N15.1billion as against the current N10. 044 billion,â€ replied Mark.
â€œSo weâ€™ve got all this money in Nigeria and yet our roads are bad, the power situation is getting worse, industries are shutting down, the unemployment market is swelling, our pensioners are not finding it easy, neither are the workers; yet our so-called representatives are there representing their pockets,â€ noted Ugo, visibly angry.
â€œSo where do they intend to get this money from?â€ queried Tony.
â€œAs if you donâ€™t know. They will convert funds meant for development to personal funds or what do you think?â€ stated Tunji.
Said Mark: â€œYes, the report said that the only way the demand could be met is to collapse the capital budget of the House for this year which is N6.2bn and the implication is that the House will not be able to carry out any projects this year as all the money will be used to service the demand of members for a new quarterly allocation.. As a result, the House is divided because the leadership is not playing along but they are being coerced to accede to the demand. From reports, itâ€™s like the deal has been signed, sealed and delivered.â€
â€œThe youths must rise and stop being lethargic or else theyâ€™ll wake up one day to discover that their future has been stripped bare by their representatives,â€ said Tony.
Noted Ugo: â€œBut donâ€™t these people have constituencies? And do those constituencies have the basic things they need to make life worthwhile? Itâ€™s high time their constituents called them to order. They are not there to share money but to let the central government know the desires and aspirations of those they represent and to meet those desires.â€
â€œYou guys are missing something here. I just remembered that 2011 is election year, so they need money to rig election or else, many of them will not return,â€ said Ugo.
â€œYou are absolutely right! So the proponents and opponents must come to an agreement,â€ noted Mark.
â€œWith all this, how do you think kidnapping, armed robbery and the like will go away?â€ asked Ugo.