N3bn Legislators’ Quarters: Edifice Of Corruption By Ademola Babalola
The usual example in Communication Theory is “When a dog bites a man, it is not news. But when a man bites dog, it is big news.” A normal man is not expected to bite. Not fellow men and certainly not dog. Yet, some “men” do bite dogs. Otherwise, there won’t be news.
In Nigeria, news, albeit oddities, walks on all fours across the national landscape. Oddities in fact reside in the Presidential Villa, in the hallow chambers of the National Assembly, in offices and in government houses. Daily, Nigerian leaders are biting their followers.
Another man-bite-man episode was the disclosure penultimate weekend by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, that the Federal Capital Territory was building N3bn official quarters for Senate President David Mark; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; and his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha.
Mohammed said the lawmakers had rejected the buildings, citing insecurity and delay as their reasons for doing so. But the National Assembly said, “no, the decision to abandon the project was solely that of the FCTDA.”
While it is still to be decided between the FCT and the National Assembly who is the liar, what can be easily deduced is that government has again given the citizens a bite worth N3bn. And as usual, the news media are feasting on the news. Expectedly too, Nigerians are up in verbal arms.
We no go gree, we sing our time-tested chorus. And we will continue to sing till another profound bite comes. It will come very soon; one needs no prophet to see into the future for this kind of a thing under a government with a large capacity for profligacy. The Nigerian government, especially the President Goodluck Jonathan’s, has proved to be a government of wastefulness. This government is throwing away national fortune while the citizens are entangled in a romance with hunger and poverty.
Examples? Here are a few in recent memory. Jonathan’s Minister of Aviation, delectable Stella Oduah, recently procured for her pleasure two armoured cars at a princely N255m.
Oduah presides over, among others, four key agencies that are responsible for keeping air travels in the country safe, namely the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria; the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority; and the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau. The well-being of these agencies is reflected in the high number of air crashes in the country. Many of them are said to be crying for funds to train and retrain their personnel, to conduct effective monitoring and to buy required equipment.
To say the least, the news of the Oduah’s cars is sickening but it fits the profile of the government. Jonathan has promised to probe the minister. All we are expecting is the names of members of the committee that will look into the Oduah’s case. I no fit laugh o.
It took the intervention of the National Assembly to halt the construction of a N4bn house for the wife of the President, Patience, recently. Christened African First Ladies’ Mission House, the unique function of the project would have been for Mrs. Jonathan to have a headquarters for her pleasure.
Such an edifice in Abuja, a nation’s capital surrounded by squalid communities, can’t definitely be too crass for a government that budgeted N2.2bn for the building of bouquet halls for the President and his wife to entertain their guests in Aso Rock.
In a way, spending fortunes to domesticate revelry may not be a bad idea for the Aso Rock lords, given that bombers, kidnappers and armed robbers have taken over the streets. And the burdens of confronting criminals have proved too daunting for the government. So, let the criminals rule the outside while the President spends his N1.3bn budgeted for refreshment in the 2013 budget (though State House Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbile, told senators during budget defence last December that the amount was “grossly inadequate”) clink glasses with his friends and associates in the Aso Rock bouquet halls while hapless citizens stay in the middle and bear the brunt.
The Mark and Tambuwal multi-billion naira houses are in fact a mere addition to the profligacy that has defined the Jonathan government. It is part of the reasons why the electorate have continued to question their judgment in voting for the President.
For God’s sake, why build new houses for the National Assembly’s principal officers? The ones built for their offices were recently sold to the occupiers at ridiculous prices under the government’s shambolic monetisation policy. Tambuwal’s predecessor, Dimeji Bankole, reportedly bought the palatial official residence he lived for a meagre N45m. The same building Bankole offered for rent to the incumbent Speaker at N40m per annum.
Again, why build new houses for Mark and co? The reasons are not far-fetched. It is to spite the citizens. It is to show them that that they are helpless. It is a sign that the government is odd. It is an indication that the government is wasteful. And it is a confirmation that the government is unrepentantly insensitive.
Amid these reckless spending, university gates have been closed since July 1 because the government said it could not meet the demands of the teachers. Resident doctors have been on strike since October 1 because the government owes them salaries and entitlements. The hospitals are worse than consulting clinics, apology to military coup plotters of old. The roads in most parts retain their old appellation, death traps. Planes are dropping from the skies. Bombs are flying on the streets. Undergraduates and graduates are turning to internet scammers, impersonators, robbers and prostitutes. And our politicians are still canvassing votes to renew their mandate to kill the future.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org