The Dilemma of a Nigerian Federal Legislator: The Dapo Lam Adesina Experience By Owoyokun Olabamiji
Most recently, aside the foreign trips of the new President, Muhammadu Buhari four times outside the shores of the country, his non-appointment of ministers, the back log of salary arrears owed by eighteen of the thirty six states in Nigeria, the Senator Dino Melaye branded champagne, the re-energized Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, the early elimination of the country’s Under 20 and Falcon national teams from the ongoing international competitions, the Saraki /Dogara APC internal wrangling, one other piece that has generated a high traffic on any thread is the news on the purported N8.64bn to be paid anytime soon to our newly elected 469 Federal Legislators; 109 of them representing their districts in the Senate and members from the 360 constituency in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly. Whaooo, Money-Ego-Kudi!!!.
The classified information was quoted to have been released by staffs of the NASS service commission, a structured agency that deals with the remuneration, services and administrative sections of the legislators. Till now, we are yet to hear a word from the Revenue and Fiscal Revenue Mobilization committee to ascertain or refute the claims, as they are the regulatory body saddled with the responsibilities of fixing salaries and allowances of public office holders. One desires to hear from the horse’s mouth.
As a realist and a student of economics, studies and projections have shown that Nigeria as a country “must” cut down on the overall expenses as it affects all the sectors of governance viz a viz executive, judiciary and legilsative arms if we must survive the dwindling fall in the price of crude oil in the international market, as 89% of our income is generated from oil being a monotonous product economy. In the last 26months, we have maintained less than half our expectation in our IGR as a federation. It is disheartening and appalling that it has continually taken its toll on states and private businesses. Decisively, the leadership of the bi-camera legislative arm have pledge an open, transparent and supportive style such that it will reflect the yearning and aspiration of a common Nigerian, be it old or young in the steering economic realities.
In short, they have both promised to be sacrificial in their conducts. Against this backdrop, I share the sentiments of all stakeholders in the Nigeria state if we would practice the democratic responsibilities and obligations as done in advanced democracies of the world. Basic truth must be told, realities of life unveiled and traditions of the Nigerian factor must be thoroughly discussed. We must take a clue from The USA. The legislative branch is one of three divisions of government that works in conjunction with the executive and judicial arm of government.Its main responsibility is the making of laws. The Nigeria Constitution outlines the powers of the legislative branch which is divided into two houses: the Senate (Red Chamber) and the House of Representatives (Green Chamber).
A legislator or lawmaker is such elected representative designated by a locality with the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper, and to carry out the enumerated powers as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In furtherance to this, they carry out oversight functions to ensure standards and compliance to government policies/laws in private cum government establishments, the power to approve an annual budget for the federal government, an investigative approval in any matters that may jeopardize or improve the peace, tranquility and justice of the entire citizenry. And they have the absolute power to impeach federal officials including the President of our country. This is the factual and existing mode of operation in a sane legislative body, which as at today our dear Nigeria is an exception.
It is only in Nigeria that a federal legislator “MUST” organize empowerment programmes at least twice in his 4year tenure. Yes, in Nigeria our Legislators construct boreholes, build classrooms, buy transformers, and many unimaginable things all in the name of representation in Abuja. Our legislators buy WAEC, NECO and JAMB forms for prospective students, some went as far as enrolling such students for extra-mural classes, naming, wedding and other ceremonies invitations remain uncountable. Alas, the sweet aroma of victory for any legislator is an herculean task to explain to a layman: the monetary and financial application prior your emergence as the flagbearer of your party, electioneering logistics and campaign machinery set in motion. Hear this, our elections are extremely expensive to pursue. And this is in sharp contrast to what is obtained elsewhere in the world. This is the Nigeria tragedy.
Yet, we still want a man whose salary in the eyes of the uninformed public caters for an average of 250 families in a month to be reduced drastically. My personal experience today will tell you more, as a build up to remind one of our newly elected Honourable of his promises to his constituents. I joined him on a “Thank You” visit to some of the many associations he had solicited votes from prior his emergence. In our 7hours interaction which started as early as 10am, he had over 200 calls. He painstakingly and deliberately answered 143 of those strange calls, all without exception was for personal request that has direct benefit to the caller. None was a reminder to get assurances of the fulfillment of electioneering pledges. He received 284 messages, all reminding him that he needs to rub their palms now that he has gotten a seat in the green chamber.
Unfortunately for one of the senders of the sms, he is an advocate of reduction on the social media, yet he had the courage to ask for financial assistance to meet family needs for this year Ramadan fast. The Federal Legislator in question is Hon Dapo Lam Adesina representing the people of Ibadan South East and North East at the House of Representatives.
The more surprising thing about this young man is the fact that even with all the challenges,he didn’t stay put in Abuja,away from his people as he came back to Ibadan during the recess and he has been moving from one place to the other, thanking the people, reassuring them of his determination to fulfil all his promises with smiles all over his face.
More surprising is the lawmaker’s openness to explain to all who cares that he is yet to get a single kobo from Abuja as he showed the willingness to satisfy the many requests of all. They were not ready to hear that. Some will even abuse him of no giving them money, this did not deter the young man from going to other locations within his constituency. Even the trade associations wants a reassurance of getting their fair share as soon as the first pay drops. It is incredible, alarming and confusing. It was actually an eye opener trip for me. And an experience that I will implore others to have if we must truly change this country.
The said N8.64bn is actually meant for Housing,Furniture,feeding,motor vehicle purchase/fueling and maintenance, wardrobe, house maintenance, utilities and entertainment, among other things and not strictly “wardrobe” allowance as widely reported. Except we face the Nigeria perennial problems of poverty, illiteracy and misinformation of the public on sensitive issues, we may hardly get the desired change we fought and won. Let it be known that amidst the shout for reduction of the salary will be a tenacity for widespread poverty in the land.
OWOYOKUN samson olabamiji