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RE: BEYOND BANKOLE'S N10 BILLION LOAN SAGA

By NBF News
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Since the article, 'Beyond Bankole's the N10 billion loan saga' appeared on this page, reactions to it have continued to pour in. This week, this column is devoted to a lengthy reaction to the article by Moshood Kalah, and other short ones. No further reactions will be published on this topic.

Sometime last year, you wrote an article under the caption 'NBA and Lawmakers' jumbo pay' following the objection raised by some concerned senior legal practitioners to the jumbo pay that members of the National Assembly (NASS) awarded themselves.

The unjustifiable pay increase apart, their unjust monthly salaries and sundry allowances make the quest for political offices a do-or-die affair. Many souls have been wasted and continue to be wasted as a result. It is clear that those objections did not yield the anticipated results, otherwise, issue of corrupt enrichment by the NASS members would no longer take place.

The emergence of Tambuwal as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives has been hailed (almost by all who have written on it) as signifying the dawn of a new democratic order. But, the same Hon. Speaker is one of the beneficiaries of the money shared by Dimeji Bankole, his immediate predecessor.

This is not the first time sharing of money would take place in the NASS; and certainly would not be the last; as long as the mindset remains the same. The sharing of the N10 billion loan is only a part of it. There is no evidence of restraint on their part, as account is not taken of how this affects the pattern of consumption and the inflationary trend in the society. With rising inflation and dwindling purchasing power of the currency and individuals, we sink further into despair.

All professional groups and segments of the society are part of the national economy. Therefore, without increase in the salaries of workers, soldiers, policemen and others in the different professional groups, they would certainly feel cheated, and would likely feel at liberty to even engage in acts of sabotage to make ends meet. In the aftermath, the war against corruption is certain to suffer reverses. It is very dishonest to keep talking about professionalizing all the services and deepening the gains of democracy, while one is busy lining his pockets. It is the perception that the top echelon of the security services is 'already settled'. That provides the recipe for a bloody military coup d'etat by junior officers.

With such indiscriminate awards to themselves, labour is fully justified to ask for pay increase for workers in the public and private sectors. The members of the security agencies have every justification to ask for pay increase. All traders, artisans, etc would feel justified increasing the prices of their wares. The cost of services will also increase. The task of salvaging the country is a collective one. If we, cannot, then, most honourable thing to do is to come together and work out modalities on how to effect a very peaceful dissolution of the union; to enable people go and manage their own affairs as they deem appropriate.

We have all witnessed the yearnings of workers in both the public and private sectors for pay increase; and in most cases occasioning prolonged strike actions to press home their demands, with attendant economic disruptions. There is no end yet to such demands for pay increase as long as the NASS members keep sharing our collective patrimony among themselves. All these call for a total overhaul of the salary structure in the country.

I believe that the objection to the pay increase raised by senior legal practitioners did not yield the expected result because they were silent over what the Chief Justice of the Federation and other judicial officers earn far above their contemporaries in all the other professional groups. If there should be a Chief Justice, Attorney General, Accountant General, Auditor General, and a Surveyor General, etc of the federation, there should also be from the other professional groups, similar Chiefs of services of the federation viz. Chief Press Secretary, Chief Medical Officer, Chief of Engineering Services, Chief Agric Officer, etc. In the same way that we have the Judicial Service Commission, the same should apply to other professional groups. The entire pay structure should be harmonized and all (including political office holders) paid according to the same Harmonized Salary Structure. That will make all the political offices less attractive and bring an end to the do-or-die quest for such offices. It will make it impossible for NASS members to contemplate increasing their salaries or just sharing money as it pleases them.

If there is uniformity in the pay structure, disruptions of service on account of pay rise by members of the NASS or any professional group can hardly take place and be taken seriously. And whenever the prevailing economic situation calls for salary increase, it would apply uniformly to all. The inflationary trend is better controlled when there is uniformity of the salary structure than when wages are increased haphazardly according to the yearnings of those in different occupational groups. Differential pay structure breeds corruption and the movement of labour to places with higher paid wages.

There is no reason why a high court judge should be paid far above the highest paid Accountant, Engineer, Doctor, Surveyor, and Nurse, etc. In terms of risks, people are exposed to different professional hazards.

If judges receive jumbo pay because they do not engage in private practice, is corrupt enrichment in which some of them have been involved not worse than engaging in private practice? As long as the differential pay structure exists, there would be agitations for pay increase and strike actions if the demands are not met.

If not as informed by the instinct for self-preservation (by any means possible) or as a way to compensate for one favour or the other (however ignoble), how else can we explain have a Chief Press Secretary and his support staff and still have people called, 'Special Assistants' or Special Advisers on Media' ditto a Permanent Secretary and his support staff and people called Special Assistants or Advisers in the same establishment? Such creations are more for confidants to be used for purposes outside the prying eyes of the regular staff; and represent the most unimaginative way of solving the ever-spiraling and worsening unemployment problem. Unfortunately, such creations informed by the instinct for self-preservation are sustained at public expense.

All professional groups should galvanize immediately into a coalition and press for immediate changes; and not relent until the changes are seen to have been duly effected. This is not the time to rely on promises that will never be fulfilled but designed to break the ranks; made by people who directly or indirectly benefit from the system. The alternative is army takeover of government because it is the army that can check the recklessness in the society.

As it stands, we may have to wait till eternity to have vibrant opposition in the NASS, since their views are always one; once it comes to their self-serving schemes. In order to achieve that, representatives of labour, ASUU, NUT, the military, and other security agencies, etc. should form part of the NASS to effectively neutralize any ability to form the two-third necessary to have their way on all their self-serving schemes. If this kind of arrangement had been in place, we would have had a more vibrant NASS as the new entrants (answerable to their constituencies and not to any of the political parties) would constitute the nucleus of a vibrant and formidable opposition. Between national stability and the farce we call democracy, is a choice we have to make.

Kalah Moshood. 08059957125
If Nigerians are complaining, what is Jonathan's position on power equation since 1999? Any blueprint to address the problems since over one year in office? We are either married to suffering or the poll was rigged. 08034282719.

After their tenure, they will leave to pay for their evil

St. Augustine, ABU, Zaria,08054587972
Like all other Nigerians, you also know the answer to the second question on the second to the last paragraph of your write-up. The answer is Buhari, but then, ethnicity, religion, regionality and other sentiments continue to bar us from moving our country forward. May God continue to help Naija now and in future elections