By Uduma Kalu Deputy Features Editor
Nigerians are turning the heat on members of the National Assembly following the weekend revelation by the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido that as much as 25% of the nation’s overhead is used to service the legislative arm alone.
They are not impressed by strenuous efforts by the legislators to discredit the allegation and Mallam Sanusi who was summoned by the Senate on Wednesday to come and throw light on the allegation. The CBN governor stood his ground saying he had nothing to apologise for.
Rasheed Ladoja, former senator, ex governor of Oyo state
If the figure is correct, that is what the budget says you are consuming, 25 percent, they should come and tell us that it is not true.
Aren’t they are earning so much?
They are also saying they are not. And you know Obasanjo said that they were earning more even than the Americans. You know the minimum salary in America is a 1 dollar, about N120. May be, that is the daily take in America. So you cannot convince anybody they are not collecting more than they are due for in an impoverished country like Nigeria What they should do is that they should bring their own figures and let us see.
Impact on health, power education- Are you asking me that one? That would have been beneficial to all Nigerians. That would have fetched us a lot of joy. If the power sector is good, a lot of job would be filled. The industries that are closing will not close. You know I am not a fan of Obasanjo but when he said what was right, I agreed with him. He is in a position to know what he was saying.
He has been in charge of the federal government. The question again is why did he give them N20m each for the third term? Is it not a question of….? Is he not the one that sharpened their appetite? If you give N20m to 360 plus 103 members or so, that can pay for a power plant. May be, he sharpened their appetite and they don’t like to stop. And no president can call them to order. All of them are afraid. Yar’ Adua was with Obasanjo. What do you expect?
Can they justify their pay? Chief Ayo Adebanjo, elder statesman
My dear, I am not bothered. Their salary is too much. They earn the highest all over the world. That is the point. They have so much money. Those we elected, we are now supposed to be working for them. It’s the major objective. They earn so much millions every quarter. You think it is alright. Stop playing with words. Their salary in comparison to the economy of the country is too much.
That is what they must address. The CBN governor said they get 25 per cent, 30 per cent. Are they supposed to be earning so much as they are earning now in view of the economy of the country, without electricity. no water, no roads? Education is crippling. But they spend so much money to maintain themselves. That is the question. They should justify their salary in relation to the needs of the country. You don’t play on words, whether it is 10 percent. Whether it is 2 per cent. That 2 per cent, can you justify it to the development that we have to bring to the country? That is my own position.
Summons to Senate- I listened to them. Their quarrel is not the 25 per cent. The point is whatever they are earning, can they justify it in relation to the development of the country? That is the question. You have to explain the developments of the country. And you are earning so much. You have lesser money left for development. That is what we are saying. They should justify what they are earning in relation to the development of the country, whether it is 12 per cent or five per cent.
President’s hands tied as a PDP govt- The senators claim that the wages commission pays their salaries, not they. What we are now saying is that whoever is responsible for fixing their salary should revise it downwards. Don’t play on words. You are talking about the government itself, the amount they are earning in relation to the development requirements of the country.
It’s wasteful spending, says Eleazu,1st DG, Nigeria Think Tank, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, ex chairman, PPMC, UN consultant, scholar and author
One has to know exactly what the federal budget was. So the quantum represented by the 25 per cent will it be N700b, N300 b? Before you begin to say what that can achieve.
2010 budget is N 4.07t. And the national assembly takes 25 per cent of that Though they say it is about 3 per cent.
That is why Nigeria is not developing. The money that should be used for electricity is being sent abroad to put in foreign banks where they are not yielding anything for us, or just use it for bribing people for election. It is wasteful spending. There is doubt about that.
How to make the lawmakers accountable- Vote them out of office, or carry placards and go to the front of the national assembly. And say that we will sit down here until you revise all the money you have allocated to yourselves. The one they call constituency vote. Some of them are paid N204m for house of representatives, and N215 for senators.
Which legislators in all parts of the world earn that kind of money? It’s just that Nigerians we are so docile. Nobody wants to protest. In view of what happened in Phillippines a few years ago— they came from churches. People carried their bibles, and went in front of the president’s mansion and sat there. They sent troops, and tanks and the people said you can roll over us.
So what else? And when they sat there for seven days non stop and more and more people were coming to sit down there, the army people who were with the tanks left the tanks and joined them. And the president ran away. That is the kind of revolution we require in this country.
They should earn sitting allowances, Prince Tony Momoh, journalism, lawyer, ex minister
Those who are asking for the neck of Sanusi are doing so because they really have no shame. If they have shame, they will know that a growing particular entity of the country will look at issues that are of priority interest to the people which national assembly will not take. But our own people, not just national assembly in our own experiences politically, would have been more interested in looking at government and being in government as a business.
Not as a service. And that is why people have been asking for decongesting the political stage so that government will be a service, not a business. And those who are lawmakers now earning such fantastic allowances should be made to earn sitting allowances rather than salaries and allowances.
So while in the past in the first republic, they earned only allowances and went back to their full time jobs, now we have full time law making as full time job. So the new law making and the position they have in public office to secure advantages for their private interests is not healthy at all. The other jurisdiction where groups demand in the system and in the polity that you can’t spent 25 per cent of your earning on allowances as recurrent expenditure, you spend about 75 per cent on the economy.
Today we are even borrowing to the current commitments and it is not healthy at all. So I support Sanusi 100 percent and I would plead that Nigerians should look at issues of more import to us than to their personal interests. If Sanusi had not mentioned that 25 percent thing, perhaps, nobody may even have known that he was in Okada to deliver a speech on the economy.
Impact on power, power education, health – That is what I mean. If, for instance, we spend less on recurrent expenditure and more on capital, all the communities in Nigeria would have had power and water and roads. But you have revenue. Hundreds of naira you earn is either put into growing the system or meeting the commitments of individuals, and the latter has been the case.
The amount they are earning is to meet the commitments of greedy officials rather than putting those earnings into areas that will grow our people and the country. Government is there because of the welfare of the people and the citizens. That is what the constitution says. But how much welfare and security do we have, from the people representing us, on behalf of the people?
It is outrageous that there is no justification to what political officeholders earn— Mr Yinka Udumakin, spokesman Save Nigeria Group (SNG)
It is unfortunate that we are living in a country where workers have to engage in a maximum struggle to get a minimum wage of N18 ,000 and the lawmakers are carting away millions every month for three-day works in a week. It is outrageous especially in an economy where the poverty incidence is 76 percent where 76 out of 100 people live below N150 per day, there is no justification to what the law makers, political officeholders, governors, council chairmen and councilors were earning. We need a system change.
By 2011, we need a paradigm shift and a kind of leadership that brings in the remedy of freshness which can give the country a fresh start and ensure that the wealth of the country is equitably distributed between those in power and those that are being governed. We must ensure that every arm of our collective wealth is not concentrated in the hands of those in government.
The CBN governor should be commended for standing up like a man before the senate to say that he stands by his belief and cannot be intimidated in his submission to lick his words and until we begin to have professionals like him and people who will not shy away from telling the truth for the love of office, we would never get things right.