Agbakoba And Legislators’ Bogus Pay - by Gbemiga Olakunle

Chief Olisa Agbakoba’s case against the bogus emoluments being received by the National Assembly members has generated some reactions. Agbakoba is a human rights activist and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association. And so the case he intends to file in the court against the federal lawmakers may only serve the purpose of public awareness just like the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi was doing during the military era. 

This is not the first time that a concerned and a well-placed citizen of this nation would draw public attention to the atrocities being perpetrated in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly.

It will be recalled that the current Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, first blew the whistle in 2012 when as a Governor of the Central Bank he revealed that not less than 25 per cent of the nation’s annual budget was being used to cater to a National Assembly of about 500 members. And of the remaining 75 per cent, the executive arm of government ensures that the recurrent expenditure supersedes the capital expenditure even as high as 65: 32 ratio in favour of the former.

Some of us have written copiously on this obnoxious and contentions issue just to awaken the conscience of our federal lawmakers. But the status quo has not changed. Rather, they are becoming more daring in appropriating a larger chunk of the nation’s budgetary allocations to themselves. No thanks to some members of the National Assembly leadership who want to be life/permanent members. These are members who are returning to the National Assembly for the fourth or fifth term instead of seeking another vocation in manufacturing or agriculture in order to reduce unemployment and thereby boost our national food security.

While we are not trying to discourage Agbakoba from taking this line of action against those we supposedly elected to represent our interests, we are saying this is a moral issue and the National Assembly members do not care if the majority of Nigerians are sleeping under the bridges while most estates are unoccupied in our cities. It has become appalling and our clerics seem to look aside and are making feeble or no attempts to awaken the conscience of these political leaders.

The only social safety net that remains resides in the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari. If Buhari can demonstrate leadership by example by cutting the budgetary allocations of the State House and those of his ministers and other public office holders on assumption of power come May 29, 2015, then the federal legislators will be forced to toe the line.

On his strategy to combat corruption, we advise the president-elect to still keep his cards very close to his chest. The body language should be sending out signals of his intentions and not necessarily speeches. We are waiting the real action and so he should talk less for the sake of national security. We have received so many promises from past governments and even from the outgoing one and the nation is fed up. We want the president-elect to hit the ground running. Nigerians want to see actions so that everyone will be made to touch and feel the impact of such actions.

In the meantime, we will continue to keep our fingers crossed and see whether Agbakoba’s intended case against the National Assembly members will yield the desired results. Only time can tell. And may God continue to spare our lives to witness more glorious days in Nigeria – days when politicians and other public office holders will see their positions as calls to service and not as opportunities and avenues to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the masses. We pray for more good shepherds to emerge and lead this nation to greener pastures. This nation does not deserve the services of hireling shepherds.

Gbemiga Olakunle, JP
General Secretary, National Prayer Movement