The present atmosphere we now find ourselves in today seems to come down to the attitude of the people versus government. This is not something any citizen of Nigeria, or any country for that matter, wants to have occur.
Government does have a place in society and our elected officials must remember that they are there because we elected them. Same goes for appointed officials; they are appointed to serve the people, bot to serve themselves or those who appointed them. They are to help those who appointed them to serve the people who elected those who appointed them.
We must inform our elected officials through our votes that their present performance and our present condition is unsatisfactory. The famous words of President Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address pointed to a principle which needs to be instilled in government in Nigeria. These words are: “…this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” The key words in the preceding statement are “for the people”.
Politicians, like any other remunerated worker, are given earnings based on their performance all over the world. The problem in Nigeria, is that nobody knows how their salaries and stipends are determined and set; it is all shrouded in mystery and secrecy; but we know they awarded themselves arbitrary hikes in salary, now earning over 1000 times the country’s average salary. Our federal legislators have been awarding themselves massive hikes in basic salary and doubling or tripling the constituency and office expense allowances at every term. New legislators (Senators, Reps and even States’ Houses of Assembly members); New remunerations! That is why those guys will kill to get there.
The main source for politicians’ income in Nigeria is Corruption (Sorry, I hate capitalising that word/noun). Apart from it, the income is through fast and shady businesses, bribes from various foreign and domestic companies who want to invest in various states in Nigeria or seeking government contracts. Many of the politicians set up their own businesses by using their proxies and contacts and capture all the government contracts, again using their contacts!
Most of them have side businesses which grow exponentially due to their connection power, others have acquired huge properties like land and houses in choice areas, etc and that might provide some income, and even political parties provide some basic expenses.
Not all politicians are corrupt, of course; but in Nigeria, most are there for the Corruption. It is lucrative, relatively risk-free (because it is inbuilt into the system and everybody indulges in it) and nobody, not even the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies can do, or are willing to do, anything about it. Just make sure you’ve stolen enough, and your case will drag on for decades. In the meantime, you’re free to flaunt your ill-gotten wealth in the faces of the people. So, why not? It is a motivation and encouragement to steal, and you can always “settle” the Judiciary too. It is an unequal and unjust society where the Rule of Law is always applied after the fact, not minding that one’s misdemeanour has broken the Rule of Law in the first place.
The cost to the Federal Government, or indeed to the Nigerian taxpayer (or no taxpayer) is unimaginable; not to talk of the fact that thousands of civil servants and pensioners are not even paid their dues; and low pay is the order of the day for millions of Nigerians compared to only a few thousands of politicians in office and power earning millions every month.
So, after all this they don’t even need corruption, do they? Their jobs are self-sustained and of high pay income. They get a salary, they take bribes, they steal money given to them for development and then they invest this money in real estates, and other business investments…indeed they work really hard, don’t they?
I’m not sure if they do anything else. The range of corruption is so massive and profitable that it would leave little time or necessity for anything else.
Their salaries and perks are definitely not peanuts. But that doesn’t stop them from manipulating it to the hilt.
Almost every source of their ‘unofficial’ income can be traced back or ascribed to corruption.
Many of our politicians have thriving businesses, which manage to prosper because of their influence. So, I guess this is also a part of corruption.
And oh yes, stealing! They steal a lot of money that should be used for the taxpayers’ benefit. Theoretically speaking, this is not corruption; it is daylight robbery.
Apart from corruption, they have high salaries, free accommodation, transport, electricity, water, etc. They also pocket huge chunks of money meant for public projects. Some also raise funds in the name of development and maintenance of the political party.
Politicians are expected, in fact, mandated, to serve the people of their country, not to enrich themselves at the expense of the people who elected them; The “job” of politics in Nigeria is so lucrative that once tasted, it is difficult for them to do anything else in life after they are thrown out or forced not to re-contest. That is why a man who was a one-term Senator, then became a two-term State Governor will now still want to go back to the Senate. Why? The lure of free money or lucre is too much. Such person cannot use their brain anymore to go back to their original call or training. It has become simply impossible for them to adjust to live in the normal society. And this is apart from the illegal, fat, and colossal pension that they will still be getting.
The Nigerian state is providing lots of money, pension, and facilities to them, while not getting in return. It is impoverishing the people and the country gradually (while the black gold still flows). It is implausible to think an accountable government can allow such waste and official corruption, but then they all benefit from the waste and corruption, and of course our governments, federal, states and local, are not accountable to anyone but themselves.
The Nigerian state is being bled to death with the connivance of almost everybody, including the ignorant, compliant, complacent, apathetic and sycophantic populace, who do not seem to realise they are being bled and are the ones paying for this corruption.
I copied this from a website, as I find it very appropriate to the Nigerian situation: “Why do those we elect to represent us make 1000 times and upwards a yearly salary, PLUS benefits, and pensions, when the rest of us do not have anything even close to it. Why?”
Because they have convinced us over the decades that they are doing God’s work, in fact, that they are God-sent. Ask any of them how they got to where they are, and the answer invariably is “It was God’s doing”. They will not even acknowledge that it was human beings that cast the votes to let them into power. It is always God’s doing. If we want the best and the brightest, we must pay for the best and the brightest. The problem with such a statement is that if a certified moron runs against a university graduate and the moron is running for the party of choice, the above statement is doubtful, but the acuity remains.
THE LAST WORD (OR WORDS):
My advice to the “young political contenders”: don’t play the politics of the Old by demonizing the Old. (By “Old”, I mean the current political order, not necessarily biological age). Just lay out and articulate your own plans to rule Nigeria. Set out what you would do differently and possibly how you plan to accomplish same. Concentrate on selling your manifesto to all Nigerians who will listen and vote. The old, anywhere in the world, will always be relevant and have roles to play, like a Yoruba proverb says: Omode gbon, agba gbon, la fi da Ile Ife. Don’t aggravate the elders despite their wrongdoings; sometimes, in your campaign, compliment them, reference them, rub their egos, they like it; then ease them out slowly, and they themselves will realise it’s time to let go. If you start criticising them; they will fight back with experiences and guile, and that’s the end for you.
Let the Truth be told always!!!!