‘National Assembly is working against the people’
Patriots have continued to agonise over the apparent disconnect between members of the National Assembly and the people, shown in the manner they have handled some issues that impact on the masses. Notable among them are the 2016 Appropriation Bill and the newly bought SUV cars. Banji Alabi, a tax consultant and National Chairman, Ondo Eminent Persons Group spoke with SEUN AKINGBOYE on these and other national issues.
Fuss over 2016 Appropriation Bill and the SUV cars for the Senate
To start with, the proposed amendment of the CCB Act is a betrayal of democracy and a rape of the entire nation. The amendment must not stand. The amendment is not only self-serving, it is an attempt to dignify corruption and it is un-godly. Certainly, this is another coup against Nigerians by the ruling political class. All sensible people must resist it, friends of Nigeria in the international system must join Nigerians to condemn and resist the move.
What the current Eighth National Assembly is doing with the 2016 Appropriation Bill, to say the least, is contempt against the Nigerian people. More disturbing and criminal is the crudity with which the fiscal document was padded and substituted, in the name of constituency projects, which from history are vague, and in many cases, non-existence. The practice is unconstitutional and is against the principle of accountability and transparency.
The practice where lawmakers are allocated funds in the name of constituency projects is an aberration in democracy and under the principle of separation of powers. It is illegal and it is an affront on the powers and functions of the executive arm of government, I am of the opinion that this only happens in Nigeria, it is certainly not obtained in other democracies all over the world.
To compound the problem, they have started sharing the SUV cars Nigerians roundly condemned when the news broke out months ago that they were going to buy them, literally telling Nigerians to perish with their clamor. They are consciously working against the people. Persons engaging in all these certainly are enemies of the people.
Lawmakers’ actions and their purpose in the Assembly
Frankly without mincing word, what the lawmakers have been doing since their inauguration is the exact opposite of the mission for which the people elected them. For instance, the first major issue the average Nigerian electorate would have wanted and thought that the lawmakers would seek to address and find an immediate solution to is the problem of salary arrears.
Most state governments owe their workers, a worrisome situation where some workers are owed as much as 13 months salaries. That it is becoming very difficult for both states and federal government to pay salary and how to get out of this mess, is what the electorate felt should have been their priority.
They are sent there to be agent of change; agent of development, designer of road-map for good governance, agents that would fast-track the provision of good roads, quality and affordable education and healthcare, security, employment, a fair share for them from the commonwealth etc.
Any hope for change as promised
The National Assembly especially the APC members who dominate it, must remember that they rode to power in the vehicle of change. They therefore owe Nigerians the sacred duty to give them positive changes the people are yearning for.
The change that Nigerians want is the change that would rejuvenate the prostrate economy, the change that would revamp the country’s battered image, the change that would rekindle ordinary Nigerian’s hope in the country and strengthen his or her resolve to work for and defend the country. This must begin in earnest with members of the National Assembly. The change must be seen in their salaries and allowances.
While I urge the leadership of the Eighth Assembly to stop this practice of constituency projects, I wish to call on relevant investigative and anti-corruption agencies in the country to launch a probe into past constituency projects awarded by the previous National Assembly, especially the Seventh Assembly with a view to ascertaining how many projects were truly awarded and at what cost.