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Accidental millionaires, political office holders

By Olufemi Mosaku-Johnson
20 June 2018   |   4:02 am
Politics in Nigeria has become a money-making venture rather than service. It has over the years become a huge industry. Observation from politics after Nigeria’s independence shows...

Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

Politics in Nigeria has become a money-making venture rather than service. It has over the years become a huge industry. Observation from politics after Nigeria’s independence shows that people are entering into politics to make name and propagate their ideals and ideas. But today, opposite is the case. Majority of the characters entering into politics are doing so to make money and feed their greed.

Many of these people are failed business, family, career, people, who seek refuge in politics. In other climes, many people coming into politics are successful professionals or business tycoons. They only enter into politics, not for what they can gain, but what they can give.

Many in our country’s political space are barely literate; drop out, charlatans, miscreants and street urchins. Many that have tried their hands in many endeavours and have failed are finding their ways into politics to make end meet, loot and escape poverty. After all, to them politics does not require intelligence, tact or discipline. Anybody can do it, even a goat.

The requirement is to be able to scheme yourself, lie about what you cannot deliver, deceive people, have a sugar-coated mouth, be vain, ability to embezzle, undependable and then you are there.

Many are even ex-convict, sacked private or public officers, deported thieves, thugs, drug addicts et el. I have been trying to see if a man can be outright honest, of incorruptible integrity, God fearing and at the same time be a politician. People who go into politics have to arrange their affairs so that they can pursue power while maintaining the type of lifestyle that well-educated executives and their children are living. Since they cannot use their brain to achieve some decent living, they will enter into politics to achieve the feat, as they will have to employe a variety of funny strategies.

For Example the USA Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have pursued — with astonishing success political wealth. For them, politics is the family business. To them, there is no distinction between business, careers and political careers. Holding and serving in public office provides a platform from which they can make terrible amount of money, connections and prominence and feed their avarice. They then use the wealth gained to lay the groundwork for the next campaign. Electoral office, business, wealth, and public service, career, top notch lifestyles all meld together seamlessly.

It’s a symbolic strategy of pretending to have the mind to serve, whereas it’s a quest to make money in an easy fashion, and escape poverty. Clinton’s family Income in 2014 amounts to $28 million and Estimated family net worth $110 million.

In Nigeria, however, it has been revealed that 70 per cent of representatives and senators parade O’ Level certificates.

According to Fidelis Mac-Leva in his findings published in December 4 Edition of 2016 in a peek into the qualification details of the members of the National Assembly by Daily Trust on Sunday reveals that a staggering number of the parliamentarians got elected with ordinary level certificates during the 2015 general elections, a development that leaves doubts on the capacity and quality of legislation in the 8th National Assembly.

A total of 45 federal lawmakers who got elected into the Nigerian parliament during the 2015 general elections to represent their various constituencies across the country were inaugurated into both chambers of the National Assembly with either Secondary School Certificates or Grade-II Teachers’ Certificates as their highest educational qualification, investigations by Daily Trust on Sunday has revealed.

Details of this, which was obtained after a scrutiny of the list of elected National Assembly members in the 2015 general elections as contained on the official website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has left analysts expressing fears over the impact of such on the quality of legislation, especially in view of the fact that most of them are first timers with little or no experience as it relates to debates, initiation of bills and motions.

Nigeria’s National Assembly comprises 109 senators in the Upper Chamber (Senate) and 306 representatives in the Lower Chamber (House of Representatives), but observers say most of them in the current Eighth Assembly are hardly seen taking active part in proceedings.

A check of the list from INEC website showed that 40 of the affected federal lawmakers, representing 11 per cent of the members, were elected into the House of Representatives while five got elected into the Senate.

Although the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for the possession of a School Certificate or its equivalent as the minimum requirement for election into the Senate and the House of Representatives, many critics have called for an upward review, saying the business of lawmaking, especially at the federal level, was a serious one that requires not only experience but a higher level of educational attainment. Some of them have some charlatans who run special centres register them for GCE and have other people sit for them, some have less than 2 passes and provided this ,since the qualification is School certificate attempt. You needn’t pass.

The tragedy is not that they have low education, the real tragedy lies in the fact that many of these people hardly have succeeded in anything and they enter into politics as remedy for their insecurity, obscurity, mediocrity and indolence. Now, we expect quality legislation from half-baked never do well.

A friend of mine, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, the executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), had posited that the possession of only Ordinary Level certificates by a large number of legislators in the current National Assembly is a matter of serious concern, given what he called the character of the current legislature

In the same vein, the National Coordinator of National Interparty Youth Alliance (NIYA) Mr. Wole Adedoyin had earlier in the year, urged the Nigerian youth not to venture into politics because of money.

Adedoyin made this known during the launch of “Youth Arise for Politics” (YAP) and “Youth Arise for 2019” Elections (YAF19) aimed at assisting the youth with intention to venture into politics and those nurturing their ambition to contest at the year 2019 general elections.

At the national level, we just heard what the legislators were earning. A nation that spends 80 per cent of its earning to feed legislators is doomed.

Professors are earning less than N300,000 and each of the half-baked, barely literate so called law breakers that people call lawmakers would be carting home over 30 million every month . There is no cancer that is more cancerous than this.

One house is okay for us, as we have many countries that are more populated than us, that has unicameral legislation and the quality of their legislation is far more superior to ours. I had recommended N20, 000 sitting allowance. This will send the charlatans parking and the visionaries, good nurtured people, who really want to serve the nation, will come to the stage. I had said the constituency allowance given to legislators is wickedness of the highest order as it is ending up on the wrong side of these people’s pockets. The more the place becomes unattractive to miscreants the better for all of us. Governors collect allocation for states without having to give account of trillion of Naira they have collected from the national purse. No tragedy is worse than the tragic of unaccountable public office holders. Where there is no accountability, people perish.

The solution is simple, Make political office unattractive. Let the salary be graded by the body saddled with that responsibility by the government. There should be note of warning across the country that politics is not an industry, but an avenue to serve selflessly.

Mosaku-Johson is the registrar, Association Of Corporate Governance Professionals of Nigeria