Looking Ahead with Bayo Oluwasanmi
Contraband Lawmakers And N84.64 Billion Counterfeit Wardrobes
Contraband Lawmakers And N84.64 Billion Counterfeit Wardrobes
By Bayo Oluwasanmi
The contraband lawmakers in the National Assembly are like people who sit on a throne on the skulls of their enemies, the poor Nigerian captive wretches. The contraband legislators represent clear and present danger to the pursuit of happiness, life, liberty, and prosperity of our people.
Shortly after the Bukola Saraki palace coup that crowned him as the most despicable Senate President, better still, Senate Predator (please don't call him Senate President), Nigerians ever had, we the people became sad and disillusioned. The euphoria which greeted the election victory seems gone. We became silent, still in shock, unsatisfied. So are weeks and months of excitement and anticipation and the relentless cascade of hype – all gone. If this is what election victory looks like, well, Nigerians can look forward to 90 years of disappointment.
They say when it rains, it pours. Amid the brutal and barbaric treachery carried out by Saraki to install himself as the Senate Predator, the National Assembly under Saraki walloped Nigerians with the obnoxious “wardrobe allowance” and other obscene allowances in the billions.
We know our political system is broken. The signs are everywhere: knee-jerk partisanship, massive debts, unpaid salaries, unfunded liabilities, rampant public and private corruption and a National Assembly with zero credibility. With Saraki as the head of the wolverine wolves, Saraki has turned his treachery into a family business by widening his treacherous influence and outreach in the National Assembly. Like father like son, it's all in the family.
Expecting anything good from the National Assembly is like praying for 150 years of prison sentence instead of death sentence. The National Assembly is an assembly of sadistic clowns and disturbed comedians. Your heart can really get pumping on some of the fast hula-hula that remains staples in the repertoire of the contraband legislators.
With escalating sense of alarm, we read that the newly inaugurated National Assembly will receive a whopping N84.64 billion ($43 million) for clothing. Described as wardrobe allowance, the amount will be split between both chambers of the National Assembly. The 109 members of the Senate will receive N21.5 million ($108,000) each while the 360 members of the House of Reps will receive N17.5 million each.
In addition to the wardrobe allowance, the National Assembly will receive furniture and car loan allowances. For furniture allowance, 107 Senators will receive N650 million while 358 House of Reps members will receive total of N2 billion. The legislators are also provided car loans they can access any time – N867 million for Senators and Reps N2.8 billion. Nigerian lawmakers are the world's highest paid. Poor working Nigerians survive on N18,000 ($90) monthly minimum wage.
The result of the elections gave us a sense of hope. We can see clearly now that we're moving from buoyancy of hope to fatigue of despair. We now have a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of members of the National Assembly: a dismal economy, unhappy Nigerians, epic discontent with the so called representatives – Senators and members of the House of Reps.
With these kind of reps, the system feels like an oligarchy. This is a political oligarchy using all the powers at its disposal to sustain its special privilege against the tides of change. Our democracy has evolved into an oligarchy. Our democracy is a farce.
There is no escape from the ever-widening gulf between the elected reps and the Nigerian people. While the reps increase their ostentatious wealth and double their profligate spending habits, their blase attitude toward poor Nigerians who voted them into office is a peculiar brand of madness. In 2010, Nigerian Senator earned N240 million ($1.7 million) in salaries and allowances per year while House of Rep member was paid N204 million ($1.45 million) per annum. American Senator earns $174,000 while a UK parliamentarian earns about $64,000 per year respectively.
Do these reps have a clear picture or deep knowledge of the people that make up their various constituencies? Do they see what we see? Are we living in the same Nigeria? The historical shorthand may be the best I can do when trying to paint the portrait of the constituents of the legislators: they're are the poor of the poorest, the jobless, the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the forgotten, the excluded, they make long commutes and work interminable hours to make ends meet. Majority of them don't own a car, they ride okadas, molues, and danfos, etc.
When they couldn't make a fare, they walk. They're tormented by hunger so much that their stomachs clench tightly that they wondered if they were getting ulcers. Their faces inspire tattoos. But take a look at the contraband lawmakers: when they're sick, they sneak out overseas to see the best doctors. When they're sore, they visit the world's finest spas. When they want to travel, they jump into their jets. When they're tired of their Nigerian wives or concubines, they shop for beauty models overseas.
Why do we have to feed, clothe, and provide transportation for these contrabands? Are they telling us they came to the National Assembly naked with all the stolen money from their previous elective positions as governors, ministers and so on? No apparel in the high-end wardrobe can spice or spruce their appearance. It's not by spending billions on wardrobes that make for good representation. This is counterfeit wardrobe for contraband lawmakers. These fellas are counterfeits both inward and outward.
How many of the few employed Nigerians are fed, clothed, transported by their employers? How many Nigerians have access to car loans or any type of loans? How many Nigerians are given furniture allowance to furnish their apartments? How many Nigerians can afford basic health care services? How many Nigerians can boast of three square meals a day? How many Nigerians have places to lay their heads at the end of torturous day? How many...?
The contrabands have built an exclusive cottage industry around corruption, malfeasance, waste, plundering, incompetence, insensitivity, and inefficiency. They have abdicated their duties as the true representatives of our people by refusing to make meaningful and lasting contributions to the welfare of of our people. Talk of aliens, these bunch qualifies as alien anarchists.
The Book of Lamentations describes the funeral of a city and in our case, of a nation. Lamentations 3: 46-48 vividly captures the tear-stained portrait of once proud Nigeria, now reduced to a pile of rubble by the invading contraband lawmakers: “All our enemies have spoken out against us. We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined. Tears stream from my (our) eyes because of the destruction of my (our) people.”
Good legislators supply oxygen as it were, to the overall well being of their constituents. It is the responsibility of concerned and caring legislators to supply all the needs, yes, all the needs of their constituencies: hospitals, jobs, safety and security, good education, good roads, running drinkable water, housing, public transportation, and other basic amenities of modern life.
It is frightening and frustrating that Saraki and his co-brigands could budget so much money for valueless and meaningless legislation when millions of Nigerian workers have not been paid for months. Indeed, it is high treason that taxpayers' money should be siphoned through wardrobe robbery conduit when the constituents of the legislators are walking corpses.
Though there is no reliable data to show how many Nigerians live below the poverty line. However, it is a daily fact of life in Nigeria that the number of the poor living in poverty continues to surge than we've ever experienced. Everywhere we go in the country, we see poverty like a noose tied around the necks of Nigerians.
Election alone will not bring the desired change we all clamor for especially with the Sarakis at National Assembly. We must revolt against these thieves and get them out of our politics. Governor Rotimi Amaechi was right after all when he said: “If you see a thief and you allow him to be stealing what have you done? You have stoned nobody, that is why we are stealing.”
Once upon a time in 1793, King Louis XVI of France was beheaded by guillotine and his Queen Marie-Antoinette was guillotined nine months after for their callousness and for making life miserable for the poor.
The brutes at the National Assembly have consigned poor Nigerians to the pit of despair. The gathering cloud of the wages of sins of the legislators can be viewed on the horizon by those having eyes to see. Now we're moving to the stage when we'll have to fight back and get rid of the pharaohs by any means necessary.