FEATURE ARTICLE

Babs AjayiTuesday, November 15, 2005
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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A CORRUPT NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND ITS OWAMBE WAYS


resident Olusegun Obasanjo is trying to find $6 billion to pay to the Paris Club of Creditors and as such reduce the nation's debt portfolio as part of the agreement with the Paris Club of Creditors recently achieved by the Minster of Finance and her team. The nation's debt stood at $43.2 billion. Even as much effort is being put into reducing national debt and the drive to set our nation and people free from the red zone the likes of Ibrahim Babangida had put us, the National Assembly or shall we call it the looters A-shame-bly was working hard to spend, to buy and to enjoy.


An assembly known more for its Ghana-must-go (GMG) tradition and corporate culture of cash-and-carry has ordered a bullet-proof car, actually a Lexus Armoured B6 car for the use of the Senate President, Mr. Ken Nnamani. I doubt if the Office of the Senate President does not have a good car in worthy condition and exotic enough in its fleet that this Senate President can use, if he should be using any car at all considering the financial situation of the nation at this austere time. There have been nearly half a dozen Senate Presidents since 1999. Don't tell me the Nigerian people have had to buy new fleet of cars for every newly and badly mint Senate President who ascend the thrown? Our people are too good at overdoing things and misusing what belonged to others or the nation.

Mr. Ken Nnamani had opted not only to enjoy life at the people's expense but to also protect it. He ordered for a Lexus at a cost 39.8 million Naira to the Nigerian taxpayer! Every conceivable reason has been given why Nnamani should have this car while the people in his own senatorial district are barely surviving and most of the roof of the schools in his own very locality are barely hanging on while the school children walk to school bare-footed and go hungry. Mr. Nnamani should be told that he should use his own car to do his work. His work is predominantly situated at the National Assembly while he may be required to travel to his constituency for consultations now and then. All of these trips are already being paid for directly by the Nigerian taxpayers. The allowances paid to every senator in Nigeria covers these expenses and there is no need for shameless souls who are holed up at the National Assembly to expect the Nigerian people to pay twice for the same service.

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We have a Speaker here in Canada and he does not ride any official car. The Honourable Peter Milliken does not have an official car nor does he have an official quarter. He buys his own tea, coffee and drink, and he pays for his own meal, yet he has so many duties that will make a Nigerian Senator not interested in his job as Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. A visit to the website of the Canadian Parliament (http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/key/sp_pres/bio.asp) will provide enough confirmation or a call to the Parliament's Director of Information at 613-992-5042 will also be useful. By the way only two office holders are housed here in Canada, the Governor General at Rideau Hall and the Prime Minister at 24 Sussex. Mark you; these people do not have official cars. No Premier of Canada's 13 provinces and territories has official quarters or car, yet they are very busy, actually too busy to find time for the lowlife, aimless man-about Owambe that the men and women of the Nigerian National Assembly engage in, many of them including state governors travelling all the way to London and Washington to attend parties! These are people who do not care about the people who elected them; people who have too much time on their hands because the do not and are less bothered by the enormity of the legislative duties they have on their hands, being only there for what they can get and what they can take.

It is disgusting that most lowlifes at the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives (actually house of riffraffs) merely see opportunities when they should be seeing challenges; merely see what they can take when they should be interested in what they can give. Are these people aware of what Nigeria owed the London and Paris Clubs of Creditors? Do they know what the average Nigerian child and woman go through on a daily basis? It is very unlikely they know how poorly equipped out teaching and state hospitals are, and if they do, they probably don't care, rest assured that they have enough cash and will to travel overseas for medical treatment.

It is important for elected representatives of the people to focus primarily on the job they were sent and less on themselves. Only in Nigeria do we take things the other way round. Sometimes I look at the work at the City of Toronto and I wonder when Mayor David Miller has time for himself. Miller is at the Council, in his office, supervising one thing or another, attending meetings, canvassing for new investments and businesses to come to Toronto, responding to our e-mails and enquiries, seeking more funds from both the Province and Federal Governments; always engaged and always busy, like 24 hours of each day! This is the hallmark of a people's representative. Mayor David Miller travels in the City's Subway to work every morning and he is one of the first to get to a scene of a major crime, trouble, etc. The Mayor of one of the fastest growing cities in the World and 26 years in the saddle, Eighty-four year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion is so busy and so hard working she probably work far more than two/three Nigerian Governors put together. She is so hard working and a goal-getter she is named Hurricane Hazel. Public work is all about service not about what you can get. And Mayors McCallion and Miller's salary is about $140,000 (about 15 million Naira) a year; their cities drain every cent of that money out of the two mayors. There is nothing like Ghana-must-go (GMG) and no opportunity for looting, or such a mayor will end up in jail just like the former mayor of Chicago. Whatever happened to service, service to your people and the joy of service and putting smiles on the faces of the people?

If Mr. Ken Nnamani thinks this is his time and the jamboree must go on, then he is mistaken, because the jamboree is over, over and done with. The shoe is pinching the Nigerian people so bad and they are crying out. They are crying out for jobs, about food prices that are so prohibitive and the dearth of basic necessities of life. I wonder on which road Mr. Nnamani intend to ride this 40 million Naira poor people-procured car, the Enugu - Okigwe Road or the Enugu-Onisha Road? This is just idleness of the first order as a very busy Senate President will not even have the time to ride a few thousand miles in a year. Can we get serious for once and come off the road that leads nowhere for a change. The Nigerian people are fed up and tired of this rigmarole, this repeat of madness and reckless waste. We literally import everything and the money is not there to import essential commodities, but Nnamani wants to use the public's nearly $4 million to buy a single car because he is Senate President.

There is the need to take inventory of cars at the National Assembly and the government should publish the finding. The finding will shock every Nigerian because there are hundreds of cars in the fleet of the National Assembly (with the plate numbers starting with NASS) to a point that most senators and representatives move around and travel with NASS cars! It is a free for all freebies at the people's expense. It is an abuse and a gross waste of tight resources. It is a looters' world. This last Saturday Senator Iyiola Omisore took one NASS car to PDP assembly in Osun State, where he was given a retributive disgrace, and Chief Bola Ige is laughing and giggling. Payback time is here huh? It is like the National Assembly is one huge car dealership and sales agent of the most exotic cars in the world. This is nothing but gross disservice to the people of Nigeria and disrespect to our Constitution.

Rather than defending our Constitution these men and women at our National Assembly are raping it, disrespecting it and cheating the nation and its people. They live from one scandal to another, one Ghana-must-go looting after another while the people starve, go without jobs, go without food and die of diseases that are preventable or at best curable. But who will legislate laws that will protect the people and ensure that our budget is focused on areas of priority and basic needs, areas where the people will feel happy to see improvements?

No Nigerian child should be out of school until he or she complete high school, but unfortunately it is reckoned that over 10 million Nigerian children of school age are out of school and more than 20 million children in Nigeria live in poverty, unable to find anything resembling food, and we are not talking about complete diet here, just food to keep hunger at bay. It is wicked and callous for Mr. Nnamani to even think of using the nation's hard-earned foreign exchange to buy an exotic car just for the sake of life of buffoonery. Rated as the second poorest nation in the world with high child mortality, unemployment and inadequate medical facilities, the nation is saddled with an Owambe Assembly and legislooters who feel life is all about how big your agbada and babariga is, how long your convoy is, and how much your private palace is worth, priorities that belonged in the 18th Century.

I think after the state governors, the next group that constitute problem and are least valuable to the Nigerian people are those ever demanding lowlifes at the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives. It is shocking that our senators and representatives (and none of them should be dashed the title, Honourable) are not at war of words justifying whose senatorial district should host the new car assembly plant or cell/car phone manufacturing concern, whose jurisdiction should connect to the national fast-train and tube system and challenging one another about the investment opportunities they have attracted to their domains, rather they break one another's head about the loot, about who took too much and whose name was left out of a purposeless trip around the world. These are just mere pests and rodents eating away at the little that is available and not caring what became of the masses that elected them. I feel strongly that Ken Nnamani should resign and go away, and the Nigerian people should march on the National Assembly to demand his resignation and demand from the National Assembly what they have done in six years to deserve their December 2005 salary. Of note is the fact that parliamentarians here in Canada spent most part of the summer season at work in Ottawa, a season that presents a wonderful time for fun, play and vacation. Our own legislators are on perpetual holiday spending less than 100 days on the job and getting paid for 365 days, the indifferent Owambe men and women and latter day cockroaches. It is a shame and history will not be kind to them even in its footnotes.