‘Why National Assembly should emulate Buhari’s pay cut’
THE National Chairman of the Ondo State Eminent Person Group (OSEG), Mr. Banji Alabi has said the jumbo pay for members of the National Assembly is not sustainable and that their insistence to continue to earn the same pay is insensitive and a gross contempt against the average Nigerian whose monthly wage could not sustain him for a week and yet bears the brunt resulting from the economy woefully mismanaged by them and their accomplices in the other arms of government.
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr. Alabi who is both an accountant and a tax consultant said, “It is very despicable and mind-boggling reports that every member of the National Assembly takes as high as N600, 000,00 as wardrobe allowance annually, when the yearly salary of the average Nigerian is far less than that and when in actual fact none of them could commit half of the same amount to such a wasteful life-style in their private life.”
While commending the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) for disclosing what a National Assembly lawmaker earns as wardrobe allowance, the OSEG chairman however noted that it is a bit belated and that the disclosure falls short of the total pay each lawmaker earns annually.
According to him, “It is belated because members of the former Seventh National Assembly were notoriously and selfishly allowed to earn that heart-breaking and economy killing jumbo wardrobe allowance, their fat but undisclosed salaries and other related allowances, which they have escaped with.”
He wondered why the fiscal agency had in the past refused to avail Nigerians with this information even when some Nigerians had sought for it.
National Assembly working in opposite direction with Buhari
“It is heart-warming, it gives Nigerian a relief and rekindles their confidence and trust in the Buhari presidency when President Muhammadu Buhari recently announced he would effect a pay cut in his salary and the aides that would work with him.
“It is however disheartening to hear members of the National Assembly seeking to maintain the status-quo in their salary and allowances.
“President Buhari as the country’s number one citizen today, has shown leadership by example, what people expect is that other senior citizens, including members of the National Assembly would follow suit and not to engage in this poisonous discordant tunes.
“This attitude surely portrays the lawmakers as not being on the same page with the president and this is very dangerous to the overall wellbeing of the country, especially the fight to rescue the economy and national security. As far as I am concerned, any member of the National Assembly who fails to follow the good example shown by the president is an enemy of the people of Nigeria who should be handled the way enemies of a nation are treated.”
Lawmakers playing lip service on change
The OSEG boss expressed his anger over what he called the insincerity of members of the National Assembly to the plight of the poor masses in the country who according to him were ecstatic when the message of change was preached to them in the campaigns that trailed the last General Elections in the country.
“It is certainly sad and ironical that the National Assembly largely dominated by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and who rode to power on the vehicle of change are today resisting change and insisting that the old order must be maintained.
“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 resolve to work for and defend the country, must immediately begin with members of the National Assembly. The change must be seen in their salaries and allowances.
“The lawmakers cannot afford not to be part of or even lead the change that would guaranty quality standard of living for the poor and abandoned ordinary citizen of the country who has over the years being the victim of the tiny but powerful people who have continued to misrule the country.”
Constituency project’s contracts award must stop
The tax consultant frowned at the practice of awarding contracts for constituency projects to the lawmakers, a practice he described as unconstitutional and against the principle of accountability and transparency.
According to him, “It is nothing but outright corruption for lawmakers to conceive projects to be cited in a particular place and also go ahead to award contracts for the execution of the same projects to the same persons
“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.”