By Chief Edwin Clark
OVER and above all these, he owns a company that collects revenue on behalf of the Lagos State government where he keeps to himself an abnormally high percentage as commission.
Most of these governors have pending cases with the EFCC. It is alleged that they have corruptly enriched themselves with our commonwealth, then they go to the Senate where they get paid a huge sum of money which was shrouded in secrecy until Senator Shehu Sani told the nation that a senator in this country receives about N14 million monthly. One might ask if we were not also paid bogus salaries during our time as senators, absolutely not. Almost every year in the National Assembly Budget, provision is made for the purchase of cars for members, this is in addition to what some of them who are past governors get from their States.
Today, about 11.01 per cent of the senators are former governors and former deputy governors who will be receiving these bogus and provocative pensions and other undeserving benefits. This is most unfair to the nation and is the height of corruption.
Infrastructures in the various sectors are dilapidated. Salaries of civil and public servants are being owed; in fact, most State governors are saying that they cannot pay the minimum wage of N30,000. Even when the minimum wage was N18,000, most of the state governors were owing backlog of workers’ salaries. Pensioners, who had worked meritoriously for number of years, yet were paid epileptic salaries during their years in service, pass through untold hardship when they retire to get what is duly their right as pensions and gratuities.
The on-going ravaging coronavirus pandemic has exposed the deplorable state of the nation’s facilities. The country’s research centres are incapacitated because they are grossly underfunded, even though the nation has the manpower to carry out innovations like any other country, they cannot because the enabling environment is not put in place.
During this period when starvation is staring people in the face, the government cannot even provide palliatives for the people. A situation where some governments will give few packets of noodles (indomie) to families is so shameful.
Nigeria has been classified as the poverty capital of the world. But we have governors who make selfish laws to suit themselves at the inconvenience, lack and want of the general populace. They even rub it in the face because the payments to themselves come first. This is unacceptable. I appeal to these governors to search their conscience having regard to the dwindling economy. And that is why I greatly commend the governor of Imo State for the action he took.
I enjoin other public office holders to emulate him, because the diminishing economy has not reflected on the lifestyle of the Presidency and on the various State Houses. Their lifestyle has not changed; they still display flambouyant lifestyle as if all is well with the nation’s economy.
One is compelled to ask, what is the duty of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, which has powers according to Part II, 6 1(d) of the Act which established it “to determine the remuneration appropriate to the holders of the offices as specified in Parts A and B of the First Schedule of the Act”, and is, therefore, supposed to control the finances of government including salaries and allowances paid to these “holders of the offices” listed as president, vice president, governor, etc. Are they, as usual, part of the system thus not courageous to carry out their constitutional duties because they owe allegiance and loyalty to those who recommended them for appointment and not to the Constitution they swore to uphold?
We cannot definitely continue going on like this because we are sitting on a keg of gun powder which will likely explode any moment if adequate measures are not taken. In the historic 2014 National Conference, all these overhead cost of running governance are taken care of. Government, like they say, is continuous exercise. Mr. President should avail himself of the Report of the Conference Report, which he is already implementing in piecemeal.
I hope Mr. Vice President is not just making a political statement. He is in a position to influence the Presidency to drastically cut the cost of governance and the corruption which takes place in the public service, even though the government is singing anti-corruption slogan.