The Truth Nigerians Must Not Know - part 2: Over bloated Government
As you must have read in the first part, the essence of this series is to unfold some facts and figures that the government does not want Nigerians to know after which some suggestions will be made in the next series called 'The Truth Nigerians Must Know. This will enable us to make informed decisions on how to take back our country from those who have held us captive in our own land. They have already wasted a generation of people and this must stop! When the people are informed, a revolution has already begun!
The global financial crisis is real and every effective government is doing its best to trim the public spending. There is uncertainty in the US over increasing the debt ceiling and European economies are going austere but Nigerian government ignores this conventional wisdom.
President Jonathan has just increased his cabinet minister to 40 and created some overlapping ministries in the process. This is sheer waste of government resources and undesirable disposition of giving patronage to party members and supporters.
The US which has about twice the population of Nigeria, Ten (10) times the territorial size and almost forty (40) times the economic size of our country has only 14 cabinet Secretaries (ministers) and one Attorney General in charge of 15 governments departments (ministries). There are six other Cabinet-rank officers who are the White House Chief of Staff, US Ambassador to the UN, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Director of Office of Management & Budget, US Trade Representative and the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. The UK, being a parliamentary government has 22 Cabinet Ministers while Italy has 24 of which 10 are without portfolios meaning that the country has only 14 ministries. Germany has only 15.
Thanks to the Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) whose boldness helped to bring to the fore the harm the jumbo pay of the legislators is doing to our economy. Lamido had insisted even while facing the Senators that 25 per cent of Nigeria's annual total overhead cost was being spent on the federal lawmakers alone. Due to the ensuing pressure, the legislators have agreed to a 40% cut in their 'illegal' quarterly allowances.
With the new cut, unlike the sixth assembly where a senators and a member of the House of Representatives were 'stealing' (please ascertain meaning of stealing in part 1) N42m and N60m every quarter, they will now be stealing only N25.2m and N36m every quarter respectively.
A member of Representative will be collecting a total of N100.8m in one year and N403.2m ($2.64m) in four (4) years in illegal quarterly allowance. Likewise, a Senator will be collecting N144m in one year and N576m ($3.76) in four years in illegal remuneration that is not provided for by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) .
With 109 Senators and 360 Representatives, at the end of their four-year term, the Reps would have illegally taken away N145.15b and the Senators, N62.78b making a total of N207.94b ($1.36b). The calculation did not include the fact that the principal officers are paid differently. At least, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, the former Speaker owned up to taking N100m every quarter.
So, what can N207.94b ($1.36b) do if not stolen by the legislators?
· It can build a 1360MW Power Plant which Nigeria badly need
· It can pay the debated minimum wage of N18,000 to 240,671 workers for 4 years
· It can buy about 52 Net buildings (Nigerian tallest building). The Bankoles paid N4b for the building
· It's enough capital to start 8 new banks at N25b each
· It can build 20,794 small housing units at N10m each
· It can build a mix of any other thing that you can imagine here like airports, universities, 5-star hotels, railways system, hospitals, universities and a holiday town.
Is CBN different from other government agencies in this reckless spending? NO!
It could be recalled that at the heath of the Senate's altercation with Sanusi, the lawmakers revealed that the CBN alone had a budget of N320billion ($2.09b) in 2010. This figure showed that in the entire world wide financial web, only the US Federal Reserve had a bigger budget at $3.22b. Bank of England (BoE) actually spent £ 271.4m ($446m) during the same period. The BoE's budget is 21% of the CBN's not withstanding that the UK's economy is almost six times as big as Nigeria's.
A claim by Abdullahi Mohammed, the head, Corporate Communications of the CBN that the apex bank spends a whopping N150 billion annually to print naira notes is also causing one to wonder if the notes are gold encrusted. This figure is not only outrageous but scandalous.
It is sad that governance has been reduced to a comical level where in this austere time, a governor like Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo state whose election was welcome with a wild Jubilation by all and sundry in the state as a break from the sad past would go ahead to appoint about 70 political aides. One of such was the appointment of Uche Ogbuagu as Chief Comedian of Imo state. I doubt if such office exists anywhere else in the world. Do you know any? With an appointment like this, no one is a better chief comedian of Imo state than Owelle himself.
Matter Arising: Since the first part of this series was published last Monday, here are a few developments:
National Assembly : Last Thursday, 29 July 2011, the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives proceeded on a six-week summer holiday that will last till 12 September 2011. You would remember that they went on a three-week recess immediately after their inauguration from 7 June 2011 to 28 June2011. With another three or four -week Xmas/New year recess waiting, the National Assembly will be having at least 12 weeks holiday in 6 months. This has certainly made their work the easiest on earth and any lazy man's dream!
Overpaid and underworked! We now have one more reason to demand for a part-time Legislature. I assume we've already had one! Haven't we? We could as well seek a unicameral legislature as obtained in places like China, Sweden, New Zealand, Ukraine, Ghana and most African nations
Tenure Elongation : On Tuesday, 26 July 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan communicated his plan to send a bill to the National Assembly for a single six-year term for President and governors. In a typical Nigerian way, he articulated his 'good reasons' while the change is necessary, the chief of which is the fact that political violence was always caused, by the resolve of the incumbent governors and president to seek re-election and that it will take effect from 2015 and so he will be not benefit from it.
Good as the reasons sounded, Nigerian have got more than enough reasons to be suspicious of their leaders' moves. Successive governments have always had good reasons for every bad action.
According to C.V.Akuta, in one of his briefs, 'the true cause(s) of political violence is the lack of transparence in our political processes and injustice in Nigeria. Single term of 7, 8, or 9 years will not solve the matter until there is complete transparency, fairness, honesty and justice, in the system. In addition, the level of corruption is more than capable to cause political unrest.'
President Jonathan's credibility problem is an issue. If in the face of election, he could claim that there was no zoning in PDP, how would Nigerians trust that his motive is not selfish, after all, he is still eligible to contest in 2015 under the existing law. If only the bill can expressly exclude any former president, then, it will be viable.
Rotimi Amaechi to buy another $48m jet : In the world where some presidents and prime ministers of many progressive countries including the UK do not own executive jets, the River state governor is set to buy a $48m jet. Amaechi was known for accusing Peter Odili for using state funds to buy 3 jets. He sold one off to Cross Rivers state for $9m and now wants to replace it with one that cost $48m (about N7.5b) because the other ones are too small for him.
N7.5b can pay 8680 workers the N18,000 minimum wage for 4 year. Amaechi is the chairman of the governors' forum that is saying that they cannot afford to pay the amount. Just think about, where does he want to fly to? A Helicopter would have made more sense.
To be continued.
Rufus Kayode Oteniya Writes! -