It is no longer news that Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world.
A senator in Nigeria earns N240 million in salaries and allowances and a member of the House of Representatives earns 204 million naira per annum. Do they make better laws than their colleagues in other countries? Well, that is a topic for another day.
For such high salaries, allowances and other privileges, who won’t do the needful to be a lawmaker in Nigeria?
The job of making laws is highly tasking, no doubt. Apart from being lawmakers, these Nigerians are suppose to be role models to the youths who are future leaders.
Political analysts have argued that most Nigerians who vie to represent their constituencies either in the state Houses of Assembly, Federal House of Representatives or Senate do so with the ulterior motive of enriching themselves instead of the primary purpose of lawmaking.
Some Nigerians have said that most lawmakers do not sponsor any bill, contribute to motions but only shout “Aye” and “Nay”during plenary. On several occasions, some have even been pictured sleeping during plenary sessions.
Some Nigerian lawmakers have also showed us that they are better fighters. From Dino Melaye’s fight in the House of Representatives in June 2010, to Benue, Nasarawa, Rivers Houses of Assembly, the list is endless.
When former president Olusegun Obasanjo called Nigerian lawmakers rouges, legislators reacted with most Nigerians calling him “the grand-father of corruption in Nigeria.”
It was reported that Obasanjo had attempted to bribe the National Assembly shortly before the 2009 general elections in order to prolong his stay in the Presidential Villa.
Confirming the allegation, the deputy Senate leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 said he rejected Obasanjo’s N50 million inducement to subvert the Constitution and provide a constitutional framework for the third term ambition of the former president.
But citizens who supported Obasanjo’s claim were therefore not surprised when the former chairman of the House committee on appropriation, Abdulmunim Jibrin accused Speaker Yakubu Dogara of inflating the 2016 budget by N30 billion.
The N6.06 trillion “budget of change” was characterised by a whole lot of issues. The budget was declared missing during Senate plenary with the executive and legislature arguing on the whereabout of the document. Another controversy ensued when the minster of transport, Rotimi Amaechi accused the National Assembly of removing the Lagos-Calabar rail project.
The secret behind the controversial budget came to the open in the dirty fight between Speaker Dogara and Honourable Jibrin who was sacked by the House on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.
According to him, the speaker operates a three-man cabal made up the deputy speaker, Yusuf Lasun; minority leader, Leo Ogorand the chief whip, Ado Doguwa who aide him in the managing the finance of the lower chambers.
Jibrin said if President Muhammadu Buhari knew how corrupt Dogara was, he would be banned from entering the Villa.
He said: “Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his senior cabal namely Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority leader Ogor have promoted corruption so badly in the house that if President Muhammadu Buhari, with his disdain for corruption and corrupt people, had the slightest idea, he would ban the quartet permanently from the villa before they eventually allow for proper and unbiased investigation by the house.
“Mr Speaker and Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun diverted millions of naira all in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence. The issue became so messy that the Deputy Speaker openly accused Hon Herma Hembe of shortchanging them of millions of naira in the deal to the shock of many Hon Members,” Jibrin said.
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In any case, unlike the 4 of them, I will respond to all the issues they raised in due course, by God’s grace.
I have called the 4 of them very corrupt public officers. I stand by my statement that they’ve grossly abused their offices and public trust
Jibrin alleged that he was deceived by Dogara’s looks. He said the speaker diverted federal government funds to his farm in Nasarawa while referring to Dogara as a “shameless fraud.”
Reacting to Jibrin’s allegations, the House spokesman,Abdulrazak Namdaz said the lawmaker was bitter due to his removal as committee chairman. Ogor equally denied the allegations adding that they were false.
In a lengthy statement issued by Namdas on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, the House said Jibrin was removed on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 for “his incompetence, abuse of budgetary process and serial betrayal, including a proclivity to blackmail”.
Namdaz alleged that Jibrin personally added N250 billion to the budget. He said every time Jibrin gets up to speak on the floor of the House, there was spontaneous chorus of “ole! ole,! ole! or thief! thief! thief! Barawo! Barawo! Barawo!” from other lawmakers.
Dogara on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in a letter issued by his counsel, Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan (SAN) ordered Jibrin to retract the statements and tender an unreserved apology to him on all media platforms where the allegations appeared or face legal battle.
In a swift reaction, Jibrin said he was prepared to meet Dogara in court.
Meanwhile, lawmakers on the platform or Transparency Group has called for the prosecution of those said to have padded the budget. The group has collected over 100 signatures to that effect.
Despite the economic situation of the country, it was reported that the National Assembly ordered the purchase of vehicles at over N35 million each for lawmakers.
“Some of my colleagues are just here to do business. You can see how some of them have brought this honourable House to disrepute. You can just imagine! Well, those named in the alleged padding must be investigated and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
“The president like you know has zero level of tolerance for corruption. It is unfortunate to have party members in this type of mess,” a lawmaker told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity.
As we await investigation into the allegation, Nigerians have been asking some really interesting questions. Why did Honourable Jibrin wait this long? Why did he start talking immediately he was removed as committee chairman? Jibrin was Dogara’s ally before he was made speaker so what recently happened to that relationship? Why has the speaker not reconvened the House to allow for investigation into the matter?
Are some lawmakers really there to do business instead of the primary function of making laws for our dear country? These and many other questions are begging for answers.