Media and Politics Media Watch

Senators’ Outrageous Monthly Running Costs

Nigeria’s parliamentary arm has seemingly remained a drain pipe that impedes economic growth in the country since the ongoing democratic experiment commenced in 1999. Comparatively, a Nigerian senator or member of the House of the Representatives earns several times more than their counterparts across the world. Still, corruption sways in the chambers. In fact, during the previous administrations, ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags with megabucks were practically turned into lobbying and legislative tools for screening, confirmation of appointments and passage of budgets. As a result, reckless, profit-motivated and episodic impeachment motions became the order of the day on any president in power particularly during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration which all ended in pecuniary deals. Later, it became a routine in the successive governments until the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. In effect, do-or-die politics ruled the polity as belonging to the parliament became the fastest money-making venture.
Notwithstanding the gross aberrations, the lawmakers allocated outrageous allowances to themselves. The recently exposed monthly running cost of a whopping sum of N13.5million to each senator, by Senator Shehu Sani, which if allocated to visible developmental projects across all the constituencies will no doubt boost development across the nation, remains a nightmare. It is indeed iniquitous that such amount is self-allocated and collected monthly by each of the senators separately from consolidated salaries on inconsequentialities.
Meanwhile, the people in their constituencies remain in misery, joblessness and poverty.  Then, an additional N200m for constituency projects is allotted annually, yet the polity keeps appearing pitiable and abandoned. Perhaps, it should be appropriately renamed paper-projects since they are non-existent anywhere. Irrefutably, the actions fall below the bar of civility.
This perhaps accounts for the unbending attempts to intimidate the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, out of office to pave the way for a companionable new helmsman. The fundamental question for the lawmakers is: How could the Public Procurement Act they passed into law specify how projects should be bid and executed but they indiscriminately allocated public funds to themselves when the council has yet to be constituted? Or is the country comparable to George Orwell’s Animal Farm where some animals are more equal than others? For example, Section 16(17) of the Public Procurement Act 2014 provides that “a contract shall be awarded to the lowest evaluated responsive bid from the bidders substantially responsive to the bid solicitation”. By the way, how could the legislature prepare and pass its budget and also clothe itself with powers to override the President? Indeed, this is a blinder.Click to continue reading.

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