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NASS: Sack them all – 1

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By Dele Sobowale
0805-777-7836 Permit me to ask whether it is impossible to slash the outrageous pay of NASS members?” Thanks. DIKE, Aba.

Dear Dike, you inadvertently placed your fingers on the right button for two reasons. First, the pay, as you pointed out, is outrageous.

Second, those political outcasts are running the National Assembly strictly for their own benefit. Let anybody point to any bill that has had significant positive impact on the lives of the people of Nigeria since they started eleven and a half years ago.

Instead, we are outraged by one self-serving bill after another, which their so-called spokesmen, in defiance of all known logic, try to defend.

Unfortunately, the fault is not entirely theirs. You cannot have two legislative houses with the likes of a former satrap, David Mark, and Dimeji Bankole as leaders and expect anything great coming out of there. As good old Alexander Pope, 1688-1744, had reminded us, “You can’t carve a masterpiece out of rotten wood”.

They were all products of the crazy “do-or-die” politics which was also the brain-child of someone who did not wish Nigeria well. Otherwise, he would not have openly condoned force and fraud as a weapon for elections.

They know we did not vote for them. After all, they came in via the same discredited elections Professor Iwu conducted. So, they owe us nothing; they owe the thugs and INEC officials everything. That explains why, despite the now overwhelming evidence of wuru-wuru, none of them is calling for Iwu’s head. There is honour even among thieves; you don’t bite the fingers that have fed you so well.

To slash the outrageous pay of the current NASS members, all we must do is ensure that none of them is voted back to the NASS – starting with the Senate President and Speaker. Let’s make a clean break with this NASS. None, irrespective of party, should escape our hammer.

After all, they all collect the money. Voting all of then out is the way to slash the outrageous pay to zero. The worst part of it; some of them, like Senator Nnamani of Enugu State, hardly attend the sessions; yet they get paid.

This is gross dishonesty on display by lawbreakers masquerading as lawmakers. The country is robbed twice.
We have the power; we should insist on using it in 2011 or stop complaining.

“Nigeria has lost a worthy son and the Ogoni nation has lost a sun.”
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s tribute at the graveside of Hon. Timothy Naaku Paul Birabi.
Paul Birabi died in December 1953 at the tender age of 37. Yet, at that relatively tender age, he had become the acknowledged ”Father of Ogoni Nation.” More than Ken Saro-Wiwa or anybody else, Birabi led his people the way Azikiwe’s West African Pilot urged us to do in its motto: “Show the light and the people will find the way”. Before anyone else, Paul Birabi held the torch of modern education to his people.

Today as the Ogoni nation gradually reclaims more of its right to the exploitation of its resources, Birabi’s early grasp of the value of education, which started at the same time as Awolowo was preaching the benefits of free education in Western Nigeria can justly be regarded as the turning point in the nation’s history.

I first heard about Birabi when I was on the visitation panel for the accreditation of the Polytechnic at Bori in 1991. One of the lecturers was a beneficiary of the late leader’s philanthropy. Little did I know that I will later get to know more about this legend of Ogoni nation. Last week, I was in Port Harcourt to attend a workshop arranged to kick-off the establishment of the Hon.

Birabi Foundation organised by his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren – none of whom knew him personally. But, you don’t have to know a great achiever like Birabi personally to feel attracted to him. I was happy to be invited. And, although the organisers did not request of me to solicit for support, it would amount to gross negligence on my part not to spread the message.

The formal launch of the Foundation is still in the future. But, every son and daughter of Ogoni nation, and indeed, every Nigerian who cherishes great achievement, should support this Foundation when it gets under way. The Father of modern Ogoni nation had demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that indeed, one tree can make a forest.

For more information on the late Hon. Paul Birabi get a copy of EMINENT NIGERIANS OF RIVERS STATE, Edited by Emeritus Professors of History, T.N. Tamuno and E.J. Alagoa.
NEXT WEEK: Chief  Ade-Ojo, Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Limited of Ilaramokin “2C” Ondo State.

“A country like Ethiopia which came out of war just yesterday is growing at 11 per cent annually.” Malam Sanusi Lamido, CBN Governor, Igbinedon University, November 2010.

Any regular watcher of CNN would have seen the advertisement by Turkey claiming its GDP is growing at 11.5 per cent. China and India are close to double digit growth. Yet, when announcing Nigeria’s 7.2 per cent GDP growth, our Minister of Finance could not help adding “the third fastest growing economy in the world.” From little fibs government officials graduate to great ones. There is a world of difference between 7 per cent and 11 per cent!!!

On the 2010 budget, our MinFin told the National Assembly that 100 per cent of recurrent expenditure had been released and 53 per cent of the capital budget had also been approved and cash backed. The current expenditure benefits public servants like the Minister; the capital expenditure benefits the rest of us.

The gap between 100 per cent of recurrent and 53 per cent  of capital (low as the total was to begin with) is appalling enough. What the Minister failed to tell the lawmakers was even more significant – less than 25 per cent of the capital expenditure had been accessed by the Ministries and government agencies by the middle of November.

Yet, government spending looms large as a component of GDP rendering the statement credited to the Minister at best baffling; and, at worst deliberately misleading — which is likely to be the case.
Meanwhile, the size of the actual 2010 budget remains a mystery; the 2011, which should have reached the National Assembly weeks ago has not been submitted.

That means only one thing – another budget delayed through ineptitude of government officials in the Ministry of Finance. It is noteworthy that no single budget out of the four operated by the Yar’Adua-Jonathan government has been implemented; thus, making budget preparation a hollow ritual followed afterwards by funny stories by officials in charge.

Four Ministers in four years and not a single one can prepare or execute a budget. Is that the way to 20:2020? Don’t ask the Minister; he will say yes; with a straight face…

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