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N87bn to elect treasury looters? (2)

By Les Leba
“The Senate President is reported to be earning N250m quarterly or N83.3m per month while his deputy earns N50m monthly.

The senate has allocated N1.02bn as a quarterly allowance to its principal officers, known collectively as Senate leadership.  Each of the other principal officers earns N78m every three months or N25m per month.

“This tragic state of affairs is unsustainable.  Those in this feeding frenzy are endangering our democracy.”
However, the curious twist in the above reports is the response of the National Assembly, who did not refute the allegations as incorrect, but helplessly pointed fingers at whom they called the founder or progenitor of the abuse of public trust!

In a report titled “OBASANJO’S GOVERNMENT PROMOTED CORRUPTION” on pg 6 in the Punch edition of 6/8/2010, “Members of the House of Representatives under the aegis of the Minority Caucus on Thursday accused the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo of promoting corruption.

They spoke against backdrop of media reports on Thursday, in which Obasanjo was credited as saying that the members of the National Assembly padded budgets and in some cases budgeted for ministries and agencies which they did not ask for.

“He was also credited as saying that with the connivance of bureaucrats such funds were usually withdrawn from budgets for projects that did not benefit the people.”

But the leader of the minority caucus in the House, Alhaji Mohammed Ndume, described Obasanjo’s comments as “unfair and uncharitable, arguing that lawmakers would not have bothered if the former president had said that Nigerian politicians were corrupt,”  They accused Obasanjo’s government of doling out N50m to each member of the National Assembly to support his failed bid for a third term in office.

Alhaji Ndume further noted that …, “the National Assembly has 80 percent People Democratic Party members in the Senate and in House of Representatives and Obasanjo is the father and godfather of PDP.  “If that is so, then it means if the children are corrupt, then the father and grandfather are also corrupt! “We all know the level of corruption in this country.  It was during his eight-year rule that corruption moved from a low level to a higher level.”

Whao!  Fellow Nigerians, are we talking of criminal offences here and not just an unemployed hungry and deprived Nigerian stealing a tuber of yam to keep body and soul together?

Well, if anyone believes that this level of sleaze is only peculiar to the Federal Legislature, then he should do a rethink!  State Legislatures, Local Government Councils have learnt to play the game of follow your leader very well!  No wonder election into public office at all levels have often become a ‘do or die’ matter to ‘serve’!  No wonder, a once unemployed rascal with connections acquires a N20m Hummer Jeep as soon as he is selected by his godfather as a local government chairman!

Well, we might ask if the Legislatures by themselves determine outrageous and vexatious emoluments, the answer is of course, no!  The Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Committee is constitutionally saddled with this responsibility, but any hope that this committee’s decisions are above board were jettisoned by horrid allegations of corruption leveled against this committee when its members paid a courtesy call on Governor Amechi recently in Port Harcourt!

The Rivers state government challenged the Committee Members to do their jobs transparently and should refrain from battering the prompt payments of states allocations with kickbacks or indeed predicating the size of allocations and location of oil wells and related revenues on the ‘friendliness’ of state governors.  Amechi declared that states should never be made to go cap in hand to Abuja every month to collect their allocations!

Well, from the above, it is clear we are in deep doodle!  Where do the principles of equity, justice transparency, ‘one man one vote’ come in this mess?

Any hope that our democracy is on course has been finally shattered by former Governor Donald Duke’s recent expose on how INEC is compromised by incumbent Governors.  Donald Duke has cautioned against any optimism in the electoral process, even if the electoral commission is headed by a saint!

Duke’s expose makes interesting reading; in serious countries, the baby-face ex governor would be invited for debriefing by anti corruption and other law enforcement agencies!  Duke has brazenly told us how he won his elections or was he narrating experiences which he garnered from the grapevine about what transpired in states other than Cross River?

In view of Duke’s expose, we may just have kissed the over N87bn hurriedly passed by the National Assembly goodbye!  How Jega hopes to order and receive 150,000 or so units of data capture equipment and other imported equipments within three months will be a big challenge, especially as such equipment are not off the shelf and may require 6 – 8 weeks or more to manufacture and consolidate for shipment with another 3 – 4 weeks leadtime before arrival port clearing and distribution.   This would be an uphill task therefore, to complete a new voters’ register and organize elections in four weeks before the January election; all these portend failure, but Nigerians are eternal optimists!

Even if all goes well and by some miracle the logistics are possible, and an excellent free and fair elections take place, are we likely to have credible leaders who truly wish to serve?  The answer will still be a capital no!  You can use best election practices to choose a leader amongst “Ali Baba’s forty thieves”, but what you will get may be adjudged to be free and fair, but you will end up with a THIEF as victor!

The political space in our country today promotes the survival of thieves and opportunists because the motivations as enshrined in the 1999 constitution are self-serving and unjust and oppressive.  Only a truly federal constitution will give birth to a new birth in our country and not the fraudulently imposed 1999 version that will govern the 2011 elections.


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