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Date Published: 07/09/10

Kenyan Politicians think their pay comes from Niger Delta By Farouk Martins Aresa

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Kenyan politicians have too many traits like their brothers in Nigeria such as sucking people dry in the name of democracy, getting rid of corruption Czars how to move on after Independence. Their salary with allowance is one more case in point. Somehow, they have not learned from their brothers in Ghana where the padded pension of two former presidents was rejected by the cry of the people. As Ghana braces for earnings from the oil discovery, do not be surprised if politicians try again for salary increase as in Nigeria and Kenya.  

In the case of Nigeria, there is Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) that legally authorizes the looting of the treasure where the income earned from the sale of the resource from Niger Delta is deposited. RMAFC members are appointed by politicians to loot on behalf of politicians because of the enormous amount of work expended to get Nigeria to the Promised Land. Recently, even the RMAFC wonders aloud if Niger Delta oil earning could cope fast enough to sustain the rate they guzzle salaries and allowances. 

The salaries and allowances in Nigeria and as proposed in Kenya are not without justification. African politicians love to shop in Europe and America. So they feel embarrassed if they have to travel to these western countries to attract investments without such necessity as humongous homes in prestigious areas with luxury cars parked in front of them to impress reputable people and investors back to Africa. These are the magical factors RMAFC used to calculate their salary. You do not expect them to take investors to the ghettos to sensitize them! 

This is what some of us who are so naïve do not understand. It is for that reason that Nigerian and Kenya politicians demand higher salaries and allowances more than the President of USA and the Prime Minister of Britain. If we think about the fact that those people are at home but our politicians have to travel there, it will explain the slight higher pay for our politicians. Please take it into account that our politicians also have responsibilities at home. Our people and families beseech them for the dividends of democracy. 

Look at Nigeria, if we go by how long each successive administration has been going on these foreign trips to attract their investments, Nigeria would be the richest country in the world. Yet, they never shy away from using the same blatant lie to travel abroad in justification of their allowances. When we have a Continent that appreciates trading with countries outside its boundaries than trading countries with its neighbors, we are bound to make others richer. Until recently, it was cheaper to fly to Europe than to fly from West to East Africa. 

African politicians are never short of reasons for the wide income gap between them and their subjects. In most cases, they give the same reasons their friends in the western countries they know and love to travel to give. That is, working class can only be employed when resources are wisely invested by the upper class to create jobs. There is nothing wrong with this point except that it is the small business women and men that create jobs that poor and working people can easily obtain. Big businesses do create jobs but in many cases for those that are well connected. 

Inflation is another excuse used to deprive the working class a living wage. Harmonization and readjustment of salary structure in the civil service with politicians can close the gap in salary and allowance without injecting new money into the system; defeating the argument about inflation. Money in the hands of many raises consumer confidence and their spending boost the local economy. The prudent action to stimulate the economy in the West to prolong benefit to the unemployed, none calls for fat salary of politicians that Nigeria and Kenya politicians desire. 

It is sad when our children in colleges and universities come back home without jobs when their well connected friends have been picked and others discarded as if they are rotten apples. That is the beginning of disparity in wages because the children of politicians have their looted funds to open fickle businesses and employ their children. These politicians can go to banks and borrow money with little or no collateral. When we go to banks, they demand the ownership to all we have in our names, plus kickbacks. We are better off with esusu.  

The reason small businesses survive apart from selling the right product at the right time, is competence, merit and ability to work hard. Easy money is hardly invested wisely because the burning desire to succeed may be lacking. This is why we have entrepreneurs selling and buying on the street to make a little profit while easy money investors look for the biggest profit or no deal. The difference in profit translates to difference in earning and wage for the hard workers.  

Consequently, we produce a generation that watches our politicians making big money out of little input that has not benefited or move our countries forward. We all work hard so that we can succeed but if it takes less than hard work to succeed, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out a way to follow the easier part to riches. The argument has shifted to those who steal and use it well to create jobs for others instead of those who work hard and create jobs. 

Capitalism has a way of lifting man out of poverty if all the social net is in place for those less fortunate and those temporarily in need of help until they can gather themselves. It is share fallacy if not deceptive to claim that all those people, in spite of their education and training in trade or skill jobs are poor because they are lazy. Especially, when others are getting a break from a well place relative or have access to easy money. 

In tough time such as this, we feel betrayed when our politicians think they have two heads and have to legally take earnings from dwindling resource and waste it on themselves because they have to feed each of their two heads while others have only one head to feed. If the amount of money wasted can be directed to poor and working class, they will spend it on basic consumer goods spurring higher production in the factories where more people can be employed. 

On the other hand, the number of rich people in Africa is too few to spur growth in local goods and services and their taste for foreign products outside the Continent can hardly generate jobs at home. This is why the indifference in the attitude of African politicians surprises others since they are not held accountable. Capitalism with a human face is lacking in Nigeria and Kenya. 

 

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