E O EkeThursday, November 28, 2013




he recent statements by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Tambuwal, who was implicated in corruption during the term of Demiji Bankole as Speaker, that the problem of Nigeria is not leadership and that jumbo pay for legislators is justified, are not only insults on the intelligence of Nigerians; but a display of arrogance and contempt for the people: which is at the heart of the rape of Nigeria by politicians.

Where else in the world would a viable government consume 80% of budget as recurrent expenditures? Where in this world, would a country spend 25% of recurrent expenditure on the national legislators? Where else in the world, do legislators claim extra money for doing what they were elected to do on top of their pay, as Nigerian legislators do? Where else in the world does a senator earn almost four times the salary of the president of United States and has billions to spend in the of name community projects or security vote in the case of governors? How many developing countries have presidential jet fleet and wife of the president can send a plan to bring the president of another country? The issue of the way Nigerian politicians has mismanaged the national resources, institutionalised corruption and approved for themselves allowances which make them earn disproportionate amount for the work they do, is one of the main injustices, crimes and distortions in the Nigerian system, which must be addressed; if Nigeria wants to make it as a country. It is worrying that people like Tambuwal do not seem to know this, and instead, are defending the unjust and immoral status quo.

What is happening in Nigeria is not good governance, but a charade by a gang whose aim is simply to take as much as possible from the national treasury. The current crop of Nigerian leaders has not demonstrated that they have what it takes to give Nigeria a future. Nigeria is currently in the hands of a fraternity of corrupt politicians and ex-military personnels, who believe that they are above the law and somehow, have more rights in Nigeria than the average Nigerian. They exhibit deeply held sectarian mind-set and values and their personal interest above every other things. They do not seem to be preoccupied with what they can do for Nigeria, but what they can take from Nigeria for themselves, their families, their ethnic groups and religion. They squabble about who gets what and not whose idea of helping Nigeria develop is better. It is impossible to prosecute politicians for crimes and lawyers collude to enable corrupt politicians from their ethnic group to avoid justice. How can people like Tambuwal have the audacity to say what they are saying, when they are presiding over a country destroyed by corruption, where they make laws that are impotent to hold corrupt politicians accountable for their crimes. Nigerian politicians would not behave the way and manner they do, or say the things they say, if every politician who breaks the law is brought to justice?

It is very difficult to find one honest current Nigeria politician, who is committed to the elimination of corruption and ensuring transparency in government in Nigeria. Where are the legislators who are against corruption in Nigeria? There are no group of law makers committed to enacting deterrent legislations against corruption. The national assembly has not enacted one legislation to improve transparency which is one of the best ways to contain and or prevent corruption. What we have in Nigeria are legislators seeking to change the law, to enable politician own foreign accounts where they can hide their loot. Nigeria has legislators who are more interested in legitimising child sexual abuse in the name of religion. This is criminality with audacity, the worst kind of criminality known to man. If there are law maker in Nigeria against corruption, they should come out, declare their assets and tell Nigerians how they acquired them; and what they have been doing to end the endemic corruption in Nigeria.

What is happening in the Nigerian’s national assembly is attempt to enable politicians avoid justice for their crimes by changing the existing constitution to make it impossible to prosecute politicians for the crimes they are currently committing. The necessary legislations needed to turn Nigeria into a true secular democracy are not being passed because of extreme sectarian agendas of people like Tambuwal. The National legislators pander to religious extremists and multi-national companies, which is why they allow the implementation of sharia law in north Nigeria and the selling of Nigeria to those who looted her in the name of privatisation. How can a national assembly keep quiet, when a part of the country is consumed by religious extremism with roots in poverty, deprivation and intolerance and, at the same time justify excessive pay which takes away resources needed for development? Nigerians are clamouring for a national conference to discuss their future, when there are legislators collecting Jumbo pays who have been elected to represent the people and make just laws. This is a vote of no confidence on the national assembly and leaders like Tambuwal have the temerity to justify their jumbo pay, without any evidence that they are doing the minimum required of them.

What is Tambuwal position on the imposition of Sharia law in north Nigeria? What is his view on Boko Haram? What has Mr Tambuwal or national assembly said or done about the ethnic cleansing being conducted by Fulani herdsmen in middle belt region? What does Mr Tambuwal think about the reckless borrowing by the government to sustain its extravagant spending? Mr Tambuwal is the speaker of a house of assembly that annually squabbles with the president on the benchmark price oil and never scrutinises to ensure that the budget is was honestly executed. What does Mr Tambuwal think about the environmental degradation unleashed in Niger delta areas by oil companies? What does he think about youth unemployment and on-going strike by ASSU? What are his ideas and view on how to fight corruption in Nigeria? What has he done since he became speaker of the national assembly to fight corruption in Nigeria? What has he done to bring perpetrators of all the unsolved murders in Nigeria to justice? Why has the national assembly not investigated unsolved murders in Nigeria? Why is he not calling for justice for victims of Boko Haram terror? These are the things that should concern honest legislator in his position, who puts the interest of his country over and above their own selfish and sectarian interests.

What does Honourable Tambuwal think about the health care delivery in Nigeria? Of course, he cares less because he has state house hospital and can always be flown abroad in emergency. What has he done for the reform of the Nigerian criminal justice system? What is his view about Nigeria’s military? What does he think do we should be done to modernise the NYSC scheme? Instead of him and his likes to be making positive contributions in these areas, he is busy trying to change the constitution to make owning foreign bank account legal, so that when he lives office; his loot in foreign banks can be safe. These are leaders who have no ideas or opinion of how to make Nigeria better and yet are in the position to do something. Instead, they spend their time defending a status quo that needs to change, to make the county better. They want to be respected as leaders, but cannot put forward single sensible idea of how a single problem in Nigeria can be solved. They really make me angry. In developed countries, leaders often argue their vision for their countries in newspaper articles, but you never her of a Nigerian leader discussing his vision for Nigeria in a way that would enable his ideas to be challenged. What they do is send highly opinionated addresses to seminars and functions where they likes of them gather. There is no attempt to expose their ideas to scrutiny.

Anybody who says that jumbo pay is justifiable in a country where majority of the people live on less than a dollar a day, lack basic health care, many children unable to obtain good education and has the rate of unemployment and crime, Nigeria has; is not only unpatriotic: but criminal minded. Nigeria has to address jumbo pay; it is a crime against Nigerians and humanity. Jumbo pay is immoral and those who justify it are justifying corruption. The politicians have no right to appropriate to themselves, a disproportionate part of the resources in the way and manner they have done in Nigeria and this should now be addressed.

A time must come, when Nigerians must decide to end this self-deception and start building a true secular democratic country, where equality and rule of law are taken seriously, instead of the criminal paradise we continue to build for the like of Tambuwal. The remuneration of Nigerian politicians is worsening social inequality, which is affecting crime rate and inflation. Nigeria has become a country where politicians can afford anything and the greater majority of the people unable to afford the basic necessities of life. This cannot be right and certainly unjustifiable.

Legislators are busy dismantling legislation to make it easy for politician to hide their loot abroad the speaker of the house of assembly has the audacity to defend jumbo pay which impoverishes the country and leaves nothing for real development. Most of the time, Nigerian legislators debate amendment to the constitution that would make life better for them and make them less accountable to the people who elected them. I suppose it is time to end this farce and start true nation building and this involves, people like Mr Tambuwal accepting that legislators pay are excessive and deciding to do something about it.

Jumbo pay for politicians, means more women dying in child birth, more children dying in childhood because of lack of access to good health care, many children not being able to go to school, more young people going into crimes and many roads, schools and hospital, never being built. Surely, Nigerian politicians can survive on a more reasonable pay to enable Nigeria develop, if in deed, they are patriotic and love the country as they claim. It is time to end Jumbo pay for politicians. It is a crime against the people.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.