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Of victims & villains

By Kola Animasaun
The National Assembly is seething with anger at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor.  Ordinarily, it would have been a matter of a storm in a tea cup. But it has gone beyond a small tiff.

Even if it has tried to hush it off, the Governor of Central Bank has upped it beyond a manageable one.  The CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, in a lecture he gave at Igbinedion University, Okada, told Nigerians that 25 per cent of government’s spending is consumed by the National Assembly.

This, he said, was unhealthy for the economy.  Nigeria, he said, needed to focus on policies that would bring real development to the country.

He expatiated: “If you look at the budget, the bulk of government spending is recurrent; recurrent expenditure.  That is a big problem; 25 per cent of overhead of Federal Government goes to the National

Assembly.  We need power, we need infrastructure, so we need to start looking at the structure of expenditure and make it more consistent with the development initiative of the country…”

Lamido compared Nigeria with some other countries that were doing better.  For instance: Ethiopia, Ghana and Angola.  They would have overtaken our economy between 10 and 12 years.

He rubbed it in that a few group of people have held the country to ransom.  He asked Nigerians to rise up and say to this group that enough is enough.

Lamido said: “Very often, you look at the problems of the country and you look at the powerful, vested interests that are benefiting from these problems and you think that the problems cannot be resolved, let me tell you one thing; stand up to them, face them, the country belongs to you and we must claim it.

And the only way Nigeria will change is if we stop complaining about these people and do something about them.”

It was a call to arms.  Those Lamido thought he meant should be ready to fight with him.

So, the National Publicity Secretary of  the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, took up arms:  Our legislators are highest paid in the world, with those of Kenya, a distant second.  Yet, they never consult us before padding their pay to such high levels.

“The widespread story is that each of them earns a million naira per day, except on weekend and public holidays!  This is not far from the truth since each one smiles home with 45 million  per quarter, in a country where most citizens live on less than $1 a day, and the maximum wage being fought $4 per day!

“Add this to the fact that, while it took three per cent of the national budget to service the National Assembly in the Second Republic, the current National Assembly is gulping over 30 per cent of the national budget, and one will get an idea of how these legislators are draining the economy.  If they dispute the figures quoted above, they should tell Nigerians what they earn and a percentage of the national budget is being used to service the National Assembly.”

It is not only the knives of ACN that came out, many others were thrusting into the blood of the National Assembly.  The NASS did not know why CBN governor did what he did.  He also drew blood.

As far as the NASS was concerned they did not draw 25 per cent of the national budget.  They did not come any nearer to the 25 per cent he alleged.  The nearest they took was 3.5 per cent.  And, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, confirmed it.

Lamido, who would not apologise for this gaff, has put the NASS into disreputation and he refused to accept that he had been misquoted. It was just quoting one set of facts for another.  Lamido says quoted from the Budget Office.

I would admire a man who will stand by what he believes — when he is correct; but will accept he is wrong when the facts points the other way.

This has nothing to do with the quantum of money the members of the National Assembly are taking home. It has to do with calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it.


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