Somewhere In Abuja There Is A Wardrobe Malfunction And It Got People Talking.
Nigeria is known for its bogus and stupendous political office holders’ pay. The economist of London ran a profile of the incomes of Nigeria’s political office holders especially the legislators and they stink up to high heaven. Given the level of poverty and the amount of perks that political office holders accumulate to themselves, despite their depressing performance in office. Nigeria is the most highly paid country in the world. The economist of London said that the Nigerian legislator earns up to $189,500 per annum.
President Buhari came into office and wants his salary slashed reviewed but somewhere next door his neighbors are broiled in a wardrobe allowances debate. This is the real wardrobe malfunction.Whathappened ten years ago during the 2004 super bowlhalftime show, which Justin Timberlake ripped off the breastplate of Janet Jackson’s, leaving bare her nipples was not a wardrobe malfunction. The real wardrobe malfunction is the debate between the Nigerian legislative assembly and the public. The 2004 ripple gate or as it was called, wardrobe malfunction was actually a planned sideshow to merely create a buzz around the super bowl.
It’s in the news that Nigeria’s legislators are paid hefty sums for their wardrobes. And my question is; what sort of wardrobe is that? All these people are either former Governors or former Political Principals who had stolen and are full. When most of the people in Nigeria are poor and cannot afford a meal in a day, when schools are like poultry houses. Young girls are not able to afford tampons and can’t go to school during their monthly periods, due to poverty. In a country where most of the people are not in school due to poverty and crime is pervasive and people who were elected to serve are usurping the wealth of the people, with motorcade the size of an emperor. Our legislators are more brats with a crass than representatives of the people. Politics in Nigeria is all about what the politicians can get out of the system more than what they put into the system. The monthly allocations of River State are more than the budgets of some neighboring countries in Africa and yet there is nothing to show for them. I came across a school in Tombiain River State on Facebook and it was a symbol of what is wrong with our system. School children in a seemingly class room that is halfway destroyed and leaving them exposed to the element. In this 21st century and our wealth cannot afford us comfort then what is our hope?
Few years ago, I opened the New York Times and came across an article captioned, “the construction site called Saudi Arabia” and my jaw dropped at the constructions in this oil rich kingdom. You wonder why the Saudi is thriving and not at all uneasy about the drop in oil prices. It’s a called vision! At the edge of the red sea is the cog of industrialization in Saudi Arabia. With the surge in oil price, from 2002 until when the price bust this year, the Saudi has been planning their massive innovation yet.The Saudi wanted to diversify its economy given a huge population which would grow to be 40 Million with 7 million foreigners by 2025; the country knew that the only way out of the human time bomb was to diversify the economy to provide job opportunities to the people.
Between 2002 and 2006, the Gulf States earned $1.5 trillion in oil revenue and which helped to kick start the diversification of the economy after the original plan to do so in the 1970s and the 1980s sputtered due to fall in oil prices in the 1980s. If anyone was following things as they unfolded during the 2008 economy recession, most of the distressed banks, like Citi group, Merlyn Lynch and the Morgan Stanley in the United States, were bailed by investors from the Gulf States. And who in Nigeria would not remember Dubai?
Today, plastics being produced in Saudi Arabia are being used to produce Cell phone in China, Televisions in Japan thousands of other products to be sold in the United States and in Europe. And you wonder why the Saudi Government said that the price of oil cannot rise about $100 again?
It’s known that the President of the United State is met with every crisis briefing and at any time of the day. You remember the 4:00Am call advertisement that Hillary Clinton talked about on the campaign trail during the 2008 presidential election? That was a real life scenario and the President has to deal with all those and yet his salary is not anywhere near the salary of some Nigeria politicians. In Lagos, Rivers State and AkwaIbom States, the state executives had used their power to allocate to themselves hefty perks to the outcry of the masses without any justification for such magnanimous allowance when the economy is in the hole. Where are the Revenue Mobilizations Allocation and Fiscal Commissionwhen we need them the most? The public display of wealth by political office holders play a huge role into why politics in Nigeria is a do or die affair. If political offices are made bare or less attractive there would not be bloodbath during and after everyelection.
As we speak now, all the states in Nigeria are broke and can’t afford to pay salaries of workers and our legislatures are not worried a jiffy. The Governor of Osun downplayed the salary affairs in his state musing that he has not only been able to pay for just but one month of workers’ salaries. As if one month is not enough torture for people not to receive their paychecks. Where are there not midterm elections in Nigeria like in most advanced democracy? For the people would have exercised their power in weeding the irresponsible representatives out. Or we should do away with the legislators as a way of saving for infrastructure like in Senegal. It’s reported that the Senegalese assembly voted to do away with the Senate to save an estimated $15 million to help victim of a yearly flooding in the country. Congress also voted to abolish the office of the Vice President which was established in 2009. So, Senegal is running a responsible Government and Nigeria is running a wasteful Government. The same could be done to our institutions which are symbols of waste and uncontrolled spending. Nigeria is the only country in Africa with fleet of presidential jets (11 to be precise) without a national carrier. Governors all have their own personal jets even in the face of poor maintained roads.
Nigerian politicians are policy deficient and money surfeit. In other advanced democracies it’s the other way. Senators are policy wonks and know when to step into a debate and change the trajectory of the debate and shape policies. Someone expected to see the so-called legislators call the minister of defense for questioning, as to why regardless of voting N4.62 trillions into its budgets, the fight against Boko haram was going south. There is practically no week that the media does not report a fatal encounter between bus drivers and the police and yet the legislators cannot call the Inspector general of police for an answer. We have turned the other cheeks for too long and if we continue this way there would not be a country called Nigeria. Everything has a lifespan; the oil we see today might dry up tomorrow.In the face of a scary economy in 2008, the United States used sequestration to cut spending and even the pentagon was spared in the process. It’s high time that the Revenue Mobilizations Allocation and Fiscal Commission cut the salaries of the legislators to size: I mean cut them to bleed!
Oloibiri and Ogoni and others on whose land the oil were found and exploited have been living in misery and abject poverty for far too long. Ken SaroWiwa was killed for speaking out loud; Boro was harassed and so was professor Tam David West, while Ibrahim Babagida could not account for over $12 billion of our petrodollars. Most of the oil blocs are in the hand of the Northern Oligarchy and the Niger Deltas are living in a mashed land infested with mosquitoes. Abuja is another Northern State in a veneer. When Abuja was built there was no consultation with the people whose land the oil was struck. How Oloibiri could be passed for a faraway state called Abuja is beyond me.Emuechem, Odi got its nose bloodied because of oil interest. How many Ijaw and Ogoni persons have homes in Abuja?
The UNEP was a campaign promise by the APC and Buhari, and we are waiting to see how that promise would translate into reality. The UNEP report had been sitting in Abuja without any political will to tackle it and this should have been the model for the entire Niger Delta. The wisest thing that Buhari can do at the moment for the People of the oil producers is to give them the same treatment that Abuja got and then we can start from there.
ToateGanago is a Pastor, and lives in AZ., USA