Recession Is Adequate Reason To Cut Politicians Outrageous Pay
Is anyone serious about cutting politicians' outrageous salaries and allowance? If this recession is not enough reason to deflate an economy that was pumped up by corruption for so many years, it is very difficult to see what else it would take. Sending that message alone would have reciprocal effect on the economy, driving inflation and prices of goods and services down so that poor people at the bottom of the salary leader can increase their purchasing power with the little they make.
We are constantly reminded of how stupid we are by the flamboyant and flagrant display of conspicuous spending our politicians and their families display at home and abroad. Dino Malaye even went as far as United States to display his house, Lamborghini and Ferrari. He is not the only one, the children of these politicians used expensive and exotic cars for drag racing on the streets of Kaduna in broad daylight. On a few occasions, pedestrians and owners of modest jalopies have got caught resulting in fatalities.
These politicians and members of their families export bundles of British pounds and American dollars out of Nigeria, a country that neither print British pounds nor mint American dollars but always in abundance in the hands of the privileged and connected. Many of these people have never worked for a dollar in their life. Yet, in Nigeria, they guzzle foreign currencies.
It has never made sense, in the first place for politicians to tag their salary on unstable commodity like oil sold at various prices in unstable markets. In order to drain income from natural resources, politicians made up a body to determine their own salaries. It should not be a surprise then that they jacked up their own salaries higher than the rest of the world's politicians. Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission's formula is nothing but a fraud in disguise to take care of one another.
The same RMAFC can be used to cut politicians' salaries in order to reflect the amount of income coming into the country. It did not take our votes to raise politicians' salaries and there is no need for one to cut the same salaries. This is important since we know many of the politicians will hide behind democracy, rule of law and invoke all kinds of legalities to keep their salaries uncut. Indeed, by keeping quiet, the masses are already encouraging them. Noises are made, politicians just wait for us to pipe down.
This is the best opportunity for most responsible government to check inflated prices and outrageous salaries at the same time. Cutting excess funds poured into the market by the vagabonds may cause recession but it will also cut inflation in the market. It can be a win-win situation because the masses will see that leaders are punishing those that fall on surplus money they cannot account for while curbing inflation and workers' salary demands.
Right now there is famine in the land. It is not only the poor that are going without food and abandoning their families out of shame because they cannot sustain them. Many responsible people that paid their dues by going to school, had good jobs in the government or private firms are not getting their monthly pays or being laid off. Many have to improvise by buying and selling whatever they can. But all of us cannot become sellers where there are no buyers to patronize one another.
Workers are always in a vicious circle of trying to catch up with inflation. As prices go out of control, especially driven by those with excess salaries and allowances shopping in the same market as the poor families, the poor will demand more money. Right now the price of a bag of rice and other basic food are more than workers' salary in a month. This is what fuel corruption at the lower level, that is, trying to subsidize the monthly incomes with other means of bribes.
Many people have indicated that this recession can be a blessing in disguise forcing most of us to cut our coat according to our sizes. In order to achieve that goal, salaries at the top must come down creating a ripple effect throughout the market. We had austerity measures in the past when real patriots, not vagabonds, managed our financial houses. In those days we never made so much money from oil but local use and outside demands for our agriculture kept our local currency strong.
Since the boom in oil production, foreign forces have demanded devaluation of our currency in order to reduce our purchasing power in international markets. African economy has always depended on what western economy wants us to produce and sell from the days of cocoa, groundnuts, palm oil and coal to the crude oil, the so called black gold. They have always dictated the price except for a brief period in the 70s when oil cartel sprung up and dictated their own price. Nkrumah had tried with cocoa but failed.
When you feed meat to a cat, you do not expect it to let go. Politicians will not give up their salaries even if the country goes into coma and the foreign income dries up; unless the people stand up to them. This is why they brush it aside each time an uproar is raised about their obscene salary. They just sit on it and wait for the dust to blow over while the common people are owed their minimum wages.
There is no specific law that demands citizens to justify their standard of living, even if they live above their means. They have to be either in the wrong party, offend someone, squeal on or report one another if their loot was not shared amicably. In other cases, politicians open accounts for their house boys or girls, drivers and relatives with or without their knowledge. These accounts are loaded with billions. These are monies that should be circulating in the market in the hands of the masses that will spend it locally on basic sustenance like food and shelter.
Juicy contracts that used to provide income for many have dried up because most of them have no basis in need in the first place. Houses are built and left empty for years because there are no tenants ready to pay what is demanded. The money that built most of these houses were looted funds without any urgency for repayment. If these were money borrowed from banks, owners would accept reasonable rent in order to make payments on their mortgages.
The same is true of many small businesses. Many people get government contracts but by the time they give kick-backs to those that gave them the contracts, there is no way they would have enough to complete the project; resulting in uncompleted projects all over the country. There is nothing new here, it has been going on for too long. Until somebody stands up and put a stop to unnecessary contracts and kick-backs that are so repugnant, nothing and nobody will stop them.
It is unreasonable to call an economy driven by corruption as a buoyant market. But if corruption is checked and looters are afraid to make conspicuous spending, blame the cooling on fear of spending. This is how we encourage politicians to engage in frivolous display of wealth. People must learn that we cannot support our economy false sense of aggrandizement based on corruption. Sooner or later, the bottom will fall out in the face of all of us.
Those that escape outside the country may find out that a fool and his money will soon part leaving them exposed to the whim and caprices of their hosts. Do not cut your bridges needed for comeback.
Written by Farouk Martins Aresa.