Politicians’ zone of interest
Nothing in Nigeria’s politics is more honourable than political office holders quest to scheme for selfish interest. Gone are the days when Nigerian politicians were known for their optimism and zeal for selfless service to father land. These days, their affluence is palpable as it is publicly displayed with impunity and pride.
However, in the not too distant past, it seemed obvious that military rule was the albatross and every wrong reason especially the country’s economy that was not progressing was pointed at and blamed on the ruling military junta.
Of course, pro-democracy groups kept the struggle in high momentum despite all odds in the fight for democratic governance. Indeed, the media also played a prominent role in the democracy struggle as many journalists suffered incarceration, while some paid with their lives. After democracy was born, given regards to the third Republic, on May 29, 1999, Nigerians were not only surprised but were disappointed to see that politicians have learned nothing but to perfect their extreme taste for selfishness.
Now that democracy has taken a centre stage, one of the critical test of democratic governance is credibility, but in Nigeria under the trail of democracy, credibility hardly exist. Over the years, we have witnessed the selfish third term agenda, the do-or-die desire for selfish politicians to retain or win elective offices.
Also, the democratic era brought animals into the game of politics as monkeys and snakes could snatch or swallow monies kept in the office. What is more? The political parties have not been of much help either as the politics of common interest is well above that of ideology and national interest. As it were, an elected political office holder can wake up one morning and defect to another party and be celebrated rather than his constituency calling him back.
The other day, the National Assembly stirred the hornets’ nest on their seemingly endless appetite for selfish interest. Had it not being for the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), that alerted the nation in their prayers as it urged the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, the Honourable Speaker Tajudeen Abbas to drop the scandalous initiative to spend N110 billion frivolously. According to the reports, the National Assembly intends to spend N40 billion for 465 exotic and bulletproof vehicles for members and principal officers, while N70 billion is set aside as palliatives for first timers in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In a country where poverty reigns supreme and the gap between the rich and poor remains unimaginably wide, such affluent life styles among a few bunch of people could easily drive up the rate of crime in the society. Indeed, the zone of interest of the parliamentarians left no one in doubt as the motive suggest that the self interest of the Legislators rather than the public interest is of utmost importance as it usually and always comes first.
It is quite obvious that the lawmakers do not always agree on every issue raised on the floor of the House. However, they never fail to disappoint as they act in collusion and go hand in hand irrespective of party affiliation, on matters that are self-serving.
Rather than exercising their constitutional and oversight functions to pursue the public interest by considering bills to improve the conditions of the over 137 million Nigerians, many of whom are in distress, misery and ravaged in poverty.
Taking regards with the promises politicians make during electioneering campaign, we must therefore, ask: Do politicians really have a genuine interest to work selflessly for the people who vote them to power? By the way, what is left to promise Nigerians that hasn’t been promised already? To a considerable extent, Nigerians are bored with lip-service promises.
Anyway, if the decision to fete themselves with humongous allowances and perks was sobering the fireworks of counter opinion from the public was chilling and a symbolic disapproval for their action. The idea to increase the National Assembly’s budget is crazy, bizarre and a grave violation of the public trust. There is no doubt that the selfish act has become fashionable in politics in the country and it is an undeniable fact that the burden of capital expenditures on the political leaders has only help to keep the masses in front-row seat to suffering.
In every sense therefore, the balance of life and living in the country remains skewed as the masses are groaning under the weight of the current economic realities. I am afraid that the more we keep believing and hoping on these political promises to be kept, the clearer it become that the political leadership is insensitive to the plight of the people.
In many ways than one, while other global citizens have had much to celebrate and enjoy as their country’s economy remain stable and booming, our political leadership are bent on strangulating the economy with capital flight. As it is at the moment, the prevailing circumstances in the country are an opportunity for the National Assembly members to move away from tardiness and recklessness that has lately characterised their Oliver Twist appetite.
The nation cannot afford to have politicians who construe the image of leadership as fraternity of ‘old boys’ brigade’ as they play identity and “paddy paddy” politics that continue to impoverish the people. Therefore, cutting the N110 billion from the budget of the National Assembly would be an honest and most honourable thing to do. We certainly have come a long way and in the twenty-first century, it behoves on the Honourable members to live up to their constitutional oath of office and uphold the spirit and letters of the constitution.
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