"Ignore our jumbo pay, focus on our work," was the salvo fired by the Senate President Ahmed Lawan to 200 million Nigerians on behalf of his classmates, the other 107 senators, whom he leads as the president. On the face value, Lawan seems to be saying to Nigerians, our work justifies our pay. As a matter of fact, he went further to establish the inadequacy of fund for them to do the duty for which we elected them, and that many of them are doing things by themselves.
We have been thoroughly insulted as a people and a nation where reporters and journalists on government pay roll are earning next to nothing, while most of their counterparts with private companies are forced to survive on brown envelopes. A country where our police and the military are so poorly remunerated and snared by graft from kidnappers. A country where policing is so badly funded that DPOs rely on the goodwill of criminal elements in their communities to fund their stations. A country where consultant medical practitioners who are custodians of our health delivery service and professors from our ivory towers earn an average of 12 million naira per annum, which is lower than what our senators are receiving per month to run their offices. Do I need to talk about the paltry pay of our university lecturers, who in agitation for better conditions of service, have kept our youths at home for nine months, but who before this time were the tools being used to facilitate the rape of democracy called Kogi governorship election. Conclusively, there is a conspiracy by our political elites to impoverish all of us irrespective of our skill, learning and service values to the nation. Mr Lawan is insisting that the funding that the National Assembly receives is inadequate. How?
Let me remind us. Lawan's leadership of the 8th Assembly is the calamity we were saved from by the drama that threw up Bukola Saraki as Senate president, though, a Yoruba adage says, e wo ni omo rere ninu omo ibon; etu abi ota, meaning: "Which is desirable in the accessories of a gun? The powder or the bullet? This is no means an attempt to defend the 8th Assembly, but as the immediate Assembly before this, they are the closest to which they can be compared. CAMA went through public hearing during the life of the 8th Assembly, who bowed to the yearnings of the people and stepped it down. The same CAMA is back to the 9th Assembly as an executive bill and Lawan and his 107 other senators who are representing us got paid with our taxes for secretly passing it. The electoral reform bill was the best thing that happened in the life of the 8th Assembly, which Nigerians expected would have been the beginning of the 9th Assembly's attempt at warming herself to our hearts. Lawan knowing how interested we are in that bill has chosen to use it to buy time for himself and his colleagues, promising that the electoral Act 2010 will be considered 2021. I presumed that the review would start in December of that year, if you know the manipulation to which they hope to take us through for them to come back in 2023.
Lawan is a Senator from the region with the highest number of Internally displaced people in Nigeria - The North East -who are literally at war since 2013, but are at peace during elections. He has received allocations for constituency allowance since 2007 when he became the senator of the Federal Republic for 13 years running. SP as he is fondly called by colleagues has been receiving allowances for constituency projects, please he should list his projects and their locations till date.
The impunity of the government was what turned the guns that should protect our sovereignty against Boko Haram at unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate. The pride of it is what made Lawan dare Nigerians, the dregs of its wine made the security detail of Lawan's obnoxious colleagues in legislative leadership, Femi Gbajabiamila, to kill a news paper vendor, sending a proverbial message to the nation of their determination to kill our access to news. This of course is making clear where the #EndSARS protests should be focused, end legislatures brutality which is now both economically and live.
Lawan has admitted the failure of the APC-led administration and of course the compromised NASS which obvious failure he robbed on our faces when he dared us us to vote them out, knowing fully well that it is almost an impossibility under our present predicament of an electoral law. We need to ask Lawan how Dino Melaye was voted out. Was it by the okun people, or the combined forces of INEC, the Kogi State governor and our compromised judiciary? And why Shehu Sani didn't get APC nomination nor never made it to the 9th Assembly. If our brand of democracy is built on the wishes and will of the people both would have made it back to the senate.
Lawan has asked Nigerians to demand for accountability and the output of the lawmakers and the legislature in general instead of questioning the jumbo pay received by lawmakers. The need to pass a vote of no confidence on the senate president by the 9th Assembly and impeach him is sacrosanct or Nigerians may accept his insensitivity as the official attitude of the senate to Nigerians; the consequences of which will be grave.
In demonstrations of the urgent need to protest the recklessness of Lawan and his Assembly, a request has been made to National Salaries and Income Wages Commission for a downward review of their pay by 75%. The petition to this effect is available in the public space and all Nigerians must endeavours to sign it.
Words are often as powerful as the audience to whom they are spoken. To imagine that the call was made while speaking at a retreat organised for the top management staff of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission in Abuja is the height of institutional recklessness against the people they are meant to represent.
Lawan further reiterated: “Can we debate the functions of the National Assembly rather than talk about the jumbo pay?
"Where is the jumbo pay? Lawan asked. "We should be looking for value for money." Our senate president can't see. What is jumbo in their pay when over half of our population can hardly afford a meal a day and we are being told of value for money? If what the 9th Assembly is delivering is value, according to a former Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani, who in 2018, revealed that each senator earns ₦13.5 million as monthly ‘running cost’ and Lawan wants us to believe, 13.5 million a month as running cost is less than the values we are getting from him and his colleagues. This is in addition to a monthly consolidated salary of ₦700,000. It's a shame that NLC and TUC are forcing Nigerian workers to keep going home monthly with what can't take them home, with their unfortunate compromise with this government. I call on all Nigerians to down tools until the 75% downward review of senators' and reps' salaries are effected and N30,000 minimum wage is implemented across board.
Lawan berated his rating and exposed his personal confusion, and maybe of his Assembly, when he said: "The value of the legislature and National Assembly to Nigerians is a democracy,” he added. ”And if you take out the legislature, it might not be a dictatorship but certainly not a democracy. If the taking out of the legislature in a democracy doesn't render it a dictatorship, then what is it? The likes of Lawan must be removed from leading sensitive institutions of our democracy without any delay before he will redefine democray.
Lawan and his colleagues should know that impunity thrives in Nigeria based on the side of the divide to which an individual belongs. Maina was once on the right side of this divide of Buhari led administration, every thing was screwed to favour him, but then for the force of the people there was no hiding place. Ndume miscalculated the dynamics of the divide and underestimated the need of a Government that has discredited itself to trade out persons like him to save face before the people. Ndume was last sighted in court sitting next to Barrister Layi T Ademokoya, plaintiff in the CAMA suit which is also before Justice Abang. The dynamics of the divide of favour is no longer with the Government but the people. Ndume is today reminded in correctional facilities. While Sanwo-Olu is on trials before the court of the people. Lawan should be warned, Nigeria can never be the same again, courtesy #EndSARS generation. His day of reckoning is here.