Nigeria’s legislature are alleged to be the highest paid in the World . The paradox here is that ,concomitantly , Nigeria is home to the highest number of poor people despite her huge material and human endowments.
Only recently , the boisterous , Senator Dino Melaye , opened his garage to allow for a census of his cars. He had on parade the most luxurious cars ranging from Rolls.Royce , Range Rover , Ferrari , etc ,etc.
By contrast , many of those who elected him to be their representation are wallowing in abject poverty , sufferance and discomfiture.
The salaries of our legislatures may be moderate but they obscene fringe benefits ranging from wardrobe allowance , entertainment allowance , newspaper allows , furniture allowance etc, etc and on top of this, they are also entitled to severance allowance.
How did we get to this stage in our national development where the salaries and emoluments of less that 600 men freeze out the prospects of our economic development more so ,in more prosperous democratic countries such monstrous expenses is avoided .
The point I am making is that the cost of governance is too exorbitant to that extent that it has effectively decelerated economic growth and by the same token economic development.
It is not surprising then that Nigeria has overtaken India as the residence of the highest number of poor people in the world.
Of all the fringe benefits attached to their posts ,only the allowances for legislative aids is appropriate. This is because they discuss a broad range of issues which the may not necessarily be informed about.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo , as the leader of the Opposition ,in the Federal House ,in the first republic , was prolific in his researching on matter of national interest. In fact many of his detailed address on most issues are still relevant till today.
I have watched many legislative debates in Nigeria , and with the greatest regards to them all, I do not see any indepth discussion and research on issues which goes to shows that the allowances for legislative aids are not well employed .
What led us to this atrocious position was the attempt by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to monetize the allowances of the legislature.
Contrary to expectation , the government danced to their tune by fixing huge allowances which has now become an albatross on the economy.
It is easy to accept a salary increase especially in an inflationary economy like ours but it is very difficult to subscribe to a pay cut which is the reason why we are yet to see the legislature willingness to accept one notwithstanding that their constituency are groaning under this heavy yoke.
What is important to ask is the logicality of constituency votes. The duty of the legislature is to make laws and nothing more. Constituency votes is an incursion into the activities of the executive.
Finally ,it is high time the issue of pay cut is tabled before the House so as to save the fragile economy that urgently requires more funds for economic development