By Emmanuel Aziken
While many Nigerians are justifiably taking umbrage at the xenophobia attacks on Nigerians by socially and ideologically benighted black South Africans, it is easy to overlook the root causes of the issue.
Senate spokesman, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, this week unwittingly betrayed the root cause of the xenophobia suffered by Nigerians in South Africa in a pronouncement.
Now, there is no gainsaying that the overall majority of Nigerians in South Africa are there because of the better living conditions that the country offers.
Those conditions have made them excel.
If given the same opportunity at home, there is no doubt that they would have stayed back at home and harnessed the opportunities for growth.
However, the ruling class, including members of the Nigerian Senate as demonstrated by the assertions of Senator Adeyeye, will not allow such. Hence, Nigerians battered at home by unpatriotic rulers are subjected to ridicule abroad.
In justifying the reported proposal to expend N5.5 billion as official vehicles for senators, Senator Adeyeye, in a manner of entitlement damned critics that they could as well go to hell!
“Directors of agencies, even minor officials in agencies use official cars. So why will the National Assembly be different,” he was quoted to have said.
“Why should it be a problem that the National Assembly is entitled to cars, to use official cars,” the Senate spokesman further asserted.
His statement earlier this week was in reaction to a court action initiated by some civil society organisations to stop the Senate from expending the reported N5.5 billion on vehicles for themselves.
That expenditure is beside the N8, 105,600 motor vehicle loan that is officially approved for senators under the prescription of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.
It is worthy to note that the N8, 105,600 loan which nearly all senators in the past had taken is often not repaid and recovered into the treasury.
In violation of the law, past Senates had procured official vehicles which they termed as utility vehicles on the claim that they cannot use the (personal) vehicles they bought with the N8, 105,600 loans for government work!
At first, they were called committee vehicles. What the Senate did then was to procure two vehicles for each committee designated for the chairman of the committee and his vice in a Senate where every senator is either a committee chairman or a vice-chairman!
This blatant violation of the law has gone on since President Olusegun Obasanjo in the early 2000s caused the implementation of the monetization policy.
Now, Senator Adeyeye in defence of the violation of the law by the Senate claimed that because junior officers in the executive branch use official vehicles that senators should also commit the breach.
Is it not the duty of the Senate to bring erring officials of the executive to sense? Or is the thinking of the Senate spokesman in line with the official policy of the 9th Senate not to antagonize President Buhari?
The situation is further compounded by the choice of vehicles that the senators often choose as utility vehicles.
In the past, they had chosen state of the art vehicles, and by the reports, the Ahmad Lawan Senate wants to expend N5.5 billion on the same illegal programme.
Nigerian officials should show an example by patronising local vehicles with Nigerian identity to promote the Nigerian economy. But no, this Senate that is now fuming over South African xenophobia like preceding senates will go for luxury Toyota and other foreign brands being produced in Ghana and South Africa!
Whereas investing in the Nigerian branded Innoson would have been profitable for the overall economy, they will not. But rather they would prefer to export jobs to Ghana and South Africa to the benefit of our competing economies.
So, it is easy to see how the Senate over time has allowed the rot in the system that has allowed the progressive damage of the Nigerian economy and promoted the well-being of senators and foreign economies!
Remarkably, the problem is not only with the Senate. The executive branch has not fared any better. Many who believed the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari as one opposed to ostentation are left agape at how nothing has changed under him.
One would have believed that under him as under the Ghandis in India, that Nigeria would look inwards.
Your correspondent had anticipated in 2015 as the change chant was actualized that the size of the presidential air fleet would have been drastically cut. He had envisaged that locally made vehicles and other forms local entrepreneurship would have been promoted.
Alas, it has not been so. However, some branches of the military must be commended for their patronage of some local producers, including boots and uniforms.
It is worthwhile that the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole plunging into his elements has taken the initiative with a crusade against South African goods and services.
“This is the moment to show commitment to our citizens and our loved fellow Nigerians by boycotting South African goods and services,” Oshiomhole said last Thursday.
Well-spoken, he must now walk the walk by leading his party and government to showcase this patriotism. Comrade must ensure that Nigerian made drinks, vehicles, food and other services take first place in his party and our national life.