By Lillian Okenwa

The National Assembly has reportedly resolved to ensure that states, local governments, and the Organised Private Sector stop defaulting in the payment of the approved minimum wage. It is said that they may even consider seizing allocations of states and local governments that fail to comply with the new minimum wage.

The national legislators also announced  plans to include a clause that will provide clear sanctions for defaulters of the new minimum wage bill that will be passed after receiving the Wage Award Bill from President Bola Tinubu.

Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, explained that lawmakers would expedite the passage of the Wage Award Bill once President Bola Tinubu sent it but the question of when the National Assembly will reduce its humongous earnings and stop wasteful expenditures remain uncertain.

Speaking last year when he was featured on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Kingsley Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recommended a 50% cut in salaries and allowances of political office holders and members of the National Assembly (NASS) owing to the economic hardship in the country. 

Moghalu, an economist expressed concern that despite the hardship facing Nigeria in the wake of the petroleum subsidy removal, the country’s governance culture encourages extravagance among political leaders and appointees. 

The President and his supporters have been demanding understanding and patience from the people and calling for sacrifices.

“The culture of governance is a very important issue that needs to be addressed and the tone has to be set from the top – from the presidency down. It has to include the National Assembly because a lot of resources go there and they are supposed to be independent of the executive,” Moghalu said.

During the week, rights advocate and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, remarked that Federal and State governments can pay the national minimum wage if looted monies are recovered. In a related development, Catholic priest, Ejike Mbaka in an interview with AIT, stressed that governors and members of the national assembly should also earn the N62,000 minimum wage proposed by the federal government.

Writing for The Vanguard in the article, Fuel scarcity: When greed, corruption and sabotage form an alliance, Abdullahi Gambari said: “Without a doubt, there exists in the country today an unholy alliance between the trio of greed, corruption and sabotage. And they are wreaking monumental destruction on the economy by inflicting needless psychological trauma on the people’s psyche, strangulating productive processes at micro and macro levels,… The bottom line is that the current traumatic situation in the country is largely orchestrated by greedy, corrupt saboteurs who are only profit minded…”

Despite a national outcry amidst intense suffering and poverty, members of Nigeria’s 10th Assembly took delivery of Special Utility Vehicles (SUVs) worth a whopping N200 million each. Although Akin Rotimi, spokesman for the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs who confirmed the news explained that the vehicles were utility operational vehicles tied to their oversight functions in the discharge of their duties in the standing committees, no consideration was given to over 100 million citizens that are caught in the pitiable pit of extreme poverty, and the country’s debt that has escalated to over N800 trillion.

Not even the suffering in the land and new waves of crime connected to the high level of unemployment deterred  the legislators from being immoderate in their lifestyle considering the pressure on the nation’s lean resources and the resultant effect on ordinary Nigerians that they represent. 

Prior to this, Peoples Gazette reported that Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker Tajudeen Abbas had  dipped their hands into the N500 billion palliative funds earmarked to cushion the harsh impact of fuel subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.

A preview of the N500 billion subsidy palliative expenditure seen by Peoples Gazette showed that Akpabio ordered four Lexus L600 VIP 2023 models worth N1 billion to upgrade his personal garage, while  Abbas budgeted N500 million for the “construction of block of three classrooms with furniture and toilets” in 12 wards and N200 million for the “reconstruction and refurbishment of Zazzau Emirate guesthouse” in Kaduna. 

Some angry lawmakers had reached out to The Gazette with materials and details about how the fraud was being carried out. The lawmakers spoke under anonymity to avoid being censured by the leadership. Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin, emboldened by Akpabio’s order for the latest Lexus vehicles, allocated nearly N4 billion for the installation of solar streetlights in certain local governments in Kano, a project deemed inconsequential for a state known as Nigeria’s poverty capital because there are over 10 million poor people there.

How the streetlights and guesthouse remodelling will improve the quality of life of the millions of underprivileged Nigerians in those states remains to be seen, particularly because President Bola Tinubu said the N500 billion taken from the supplementary budget was for the purpose of relieving the economic hardship caused by the subsidy elimination.

Nigeria is rated one of Africa’s worst-governed countries, ranking 37th of 52 countries on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2021, and 12th out of 15 West African states. Mauritius, Cape Verde, and Botswana were the top three in Africa. 

Sunday Ogidigbo in his piece, Nigerians: A People United By Suffering said: “The political space appears to be one place where our “Nigerian-ess” turns from positive energy to a depressing and passive one. Nigeria shows profound leadership in all other fields of human endeavour, except when it comes to politics. It will appear like we end up having the worst of us leading the rest of us. The paradox here is when we elect successful businessmen who built great businesses into public office, with the expectation that they will transform public service delivery, they tend to turn around and say they are not magicians or miracle workers. One begins to imagine if there is a force in public service that corrupts and makes smart people clueless.”

As the new minimum wage imbroglio continues with President Tinubu saying he would approve what is affordable, Nigerians remain hopeful that the sacrifices they have been continually asked to make would include National Assembly members  and political office holders cutting their large salaries.

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