Nigerians are a very special breed of people. Their tolerance level for corruption and indolence served them by the ruling class is very high. Yes, you read me right. Since pre-independence era, the portrait of Nigeria as an independent nation was evident.
If you have read Wole Soyinka’s You Must Set Forth At Dawn, then you have an idea of what am talking about.
The Nobel Laureate wrote about the lavish and corrupt lifestyle of one of our founding fathers that traveled to Britain on official assignment with tax payer’s money. He would party, drink and waste the little we had as a nation as if money were found on trees back home. Of note in the memoir was his revelation that the said ‘high ranking’ official paid an ‘arranged’ white female student (aristo babe) with the official cheque that carried the official seal of his political office.
Not to bore you with too much stories, the same trend of irresponsibility, abuse of office and misappropriation of funds continue to this day without an end in sight.
Democratic institutions have evolved over time to make diverse society better, but why sanity continues to elude our system still remains a mirage today. In democratic process, institutions such as the legislature have evolved from its primary responsibility of making laws to checking the excesses of the executive arm. The idea of a vibrant legislative arm is simply for check and balances.
The Senate, an arm of Nigerian federal legislature as presently constituted is at best a joke of some sort, a money-wasting conglomerate and a cog in the wheel of progress and development of Nigeria.
Nigeria runs a bi-camera legislature; The Upper House and Lower House. The Upper House is called the Senate with a total of 109 members, 3 from each of the 36 states of the federation and 1 from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Lower House referred to as House of Representative has a total of 360 members from the 360 federal constituencies of the country.
The senate is generally believed to have some sort of ‘seniority’ over the house of representative but in reality, they are only ‘seniors’ in non-performance and salaries earned.
The Senate led by General David Mark is at best docile, and a waste of our limited resources.
It cost Nigerian Tax Payers an estimated N400m to service a Senator in a year. Multiplied by 109 senators is a whooping N43.6b. A single four year term per senator equals N1.6b. I wouldn’t have had problem with this figure if the Senate was vibrant, up and doing.
In the 2013 budget, there is a statutory budget transfer of N150b to the National Assembly. As at the time of writing this article, the breakdown is not readily available for analysis. But, it may interest you to note that the Senate President alone is allegedly serviced with N600m of tax payer’s money yearly. Meaning if he complete his tenure still occupying his seat as the Senate President, Nigerians would have spent a total of N2.4 billion on him alone. No wonder he was alleged to have donated a car worth between $50,000- $100,000 to Tuface Idibia for his wedding which took place in Dubai, a claim he later refuted.
When will Nigerians learn not to complain, that’s just ‘recharge card’ money for our senate ‘Oga At The Top’ (Pun Intended).
The tinted characters Nigerians are presently subsiding and enriching through the senate are the likes of Joshua Dariye, former Plateau state governor and thieftain (sorry chieftain) of the PDP, George Akume, Former Benue state governor also elected under the PDP platform and still standing corruption trial in the court of law. Others are Sen. Ali Ndume who is allleged to be a sponsor and financier of the deadly Boko Haram group, Sen. Sani Ahmad Yerima, former Zamfara State Governor and accused child molester, who is still presently married to an ‘under-aged’ girl. The senate also have as members; Andy Uba, Gemade Barnabas, Danjuma Goje, a simple task of google-ing these names will tell you much about their characters. These are just a few and as ex-president General Olusegun Obasanjo once revealed, The national assembly is populated by dubious character and criminals.
Nigerians wake up; for how long are we going to tolerate this slap on our faces?
American legislators from the republican party are pain in ass for Obama, though we are copying their bi-cameral system of legislature, ours is a waste of resources in that we are not as rich as America. Nigeria’s budget is not even up to 1/4 of New York State budget. Ok, let me give you the numbers. On March 29th, 2013 the New York state assembly passed a budget of $135billion into law, that’s N20trilion in Nigeria’s currency. The total of Nigeria’s budget for 2013 is around N4.5trilion i.e. $32.6billion
We have not seen much commitment towards economic growth, fighting insecurity, beaming more searchlight on the activities of the executive arm of government from the Nigeria’s Upper Legislative house. For how long are we going to permit this docile and rudderless house from subsisting?
Truth be told, there are few senators who are bold, ingenious and totally different from the pack, but we haven’t seen any remarkable result from them.
I would expect the Senate as the representative of the people, to continually stand President Goodluck Jonathan on his toes.
Mr. President it too comfortable on his seat and is not being held accountable for his actions and inactions. He should be held liable for the insecurity and account for the death of citizens in Baga, Bama and Nassarawa. He should be made to feel the ‘heat’, which ultimately will propel him into action.
But as of now, the Nigerian Senate is a waste of our minimal resources and should thus be scrapped. But who will? The same institution is charged with reviewing the Nigerian constitution.
Truth is, we are ok with having just the lower house of representative, we can manage their little inadequacies, at least they seen to be working compared to David Mark’s Upper House whose only proud and gallant achievement till date is appeasing their hypocritical mindset by sending homosexuals to 14years imprisonment or stoning to death in states where Sharia law is practiced.
Kikiowo Ileowo is a public commentator and the Editor of The Paradigm.
You can follow him on twitter via @ileowo4ever