Date Published: 05/06/10
Why are we not screaming? I will scream By Idang Alibi
Some time last year, one of Nigeria’s most respected elder statesmen Chief Emeka Anyaoku came on national television to lament the cost of administration to this country. He said the reason Nigeria was not developed and may not become developed in the foreseeable future unless something is done about it is that we spend too much of our money on administration. He said a situation whereby the country spends about sixty million Naira and forty million Naira monthly on each member of the senate and on each member of the Federal House of Representatives respectively, can not give room for any meaningful development.
I say it was the Right Honourable Chief Emeka Anyaoku himself who said this publicly on TV. I heard him right with my two ears and saw him with my koro koro eyes. No body saw and heard him and told me what he said. The following day I rushed to see what will be on the front pages and in the OP-ED pages of our newspapers. There was nothing. The few papers that bothered to report the story at all buried it in some obscure corners of their papers. Pundits and commentators said nothing. I felt like carrying a placard and engaging in a one-man demonstration denouncing the rape of Mother Nigeria by those who are supposed to protect her best interests. I wanted to go to the Eagle Square at the Three Arms Zone in Abuja and scream obscenities at those members of the Senate (aka the Sinnate) and those of the Federal House of Representathieves and those in the Executhieves who are either allowing the serial rape of Nigeria or are turning a blind eye to it.
When Anyaoku made that remark I also expected that the following day, spokespersons of the two arms of the legislative assembly will come out to vigorously deny that statement. I also thought that the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission will come out to say that the elder statesman was not entirely correct and proceed to give what each of the legislooters was actually costing the common till. But nothing of the sort happened. Which of course means that Anyaoku was correct in every material particular. In fact if you add what the sinnators and representathieves members get from the constituency projects which they execute personally using their companies; the chua-chua they get from their oversight functions; the allowances they get for merely sitting to do their committee work; the money they make from special interests trying to ‘lobby’ them; the money they get not to impeach a president; what they get to lubricate their passage of some legislation; what they receive to promote certain causes and what they get to filibuster another legislation; and finally, what they get from what they build into every year’s budget which has always ballooned our appropriation for each year, one may discover that at the end of the day each sinnator takes home about a hundred million every good month and his counterpart in the House goes home with about eighty million. Surely, law making in Nigeria must be one of the best paying jobs in the whole wide world. I do not think that Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet earn this type of income every month.
A few days ago Acting President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the appropriation bill for 2010. How many of us are aware of the fact that in that law, the National Assembly has appropriated a princely sum of nearly N100 billion as its recurrent expenditure? Yet no one is screaming about it. Is there nothing that shocks the complacent people of this raped country any more? Have we all been hypnotized by those who govern us? Just what is responsible for this collective stupour that has come upon us? Why is no one screaming? Are our throats patched or stitched by our rulers? If we can not do anything about it, can we not just make noise for record purposes so that years later our children will not rebuke us for living with this type of outrage and not doing anything even tepid about it? Do we regard it as good luck the fortune of those who are privileged to be making laws for us and we are merely waiting for our turn? If we spend so much on administration how can we even begin to think of joining the league of developed economies in the next ten short years as we seem to be day-dreaming now? What has come over us? What is responsible for this paralysis of will to do something about the cost of our governance?
By the way, the National Assembly has within its fold some few members who used to sound as if they were radicals or activists or consciences of the nation when they were not yet members. My friend Ezeuche Ubani is in the lower House. What has he to say about the amount he gets every month, an amount that is the annual income of over 6000 Nigerians? Does he not feel compelled by his conscience to reject what he gets every month when millions of Nigerians die every day because they can not afford treatment for a common ailment like Malaria? Is no one radical enough to commit class suicide in order to be on the side of Mother Nigeria? Even when the colonial masters whose mission here was to appropriate the resources of the colonized for the development of the economy of the Imperial country were not so heartless. They tried to leave something behind for the development of the conquered land.
Why are our own colonial brothers and sisters more inconsiderate than the oyibo overlords?
If the need for class solidarity dulls the senses of members of the National Acceptance of wrong (sorry, National Assembly) why do ordinary Nigerians appear indifferent to the way our common patrimony is shared? We have a member of that House who has become nationally famous for declaring in bombast that “while the vast majority of Nigerians have come to vascilitate between exuberant enthusiasm and irrational irritability, a microscopic few that have piloted the affairs of this nation live on peasantry lootry and propensive solicity”. Let some one please engage in some ‘irrational irritability’ on behalf of all of us.