Recent alarm raised by the federal lawmakers, especially the senate, that the central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusiâ€™s claim that 25% of the Federal Government overhead in the 2010 budget was been gulped by the National Assembly members would not surprise Nigerians in that the parliamentarians penchant for grandiose and ostentations life styles which the perk of office offers, has elicited numerous scandalous sleaze on the national treasury.
There is no gainsaying that Sanusiâ€™s Wednesday, 1st of December, 2010 revelation was a tip of the iceberg, given that the continuous public outcry that the remuneration and salaries of the insignificant 469 lawmakers against the majority of 150 million Nigerians was dealing a dead blow on the nationâ€™s economy.
Sanusi it was reported had at an academic exercise last week in Okada, Edo State, delivered a lecture on the state of the Nigerian economy where accordingly he revealed that 25% of the 2010 budget was been spent on the lawmakers, a statement which infuriated the national assembly to summon the CBN governor who in response insisted that he quoted figures obtained from the office of the director of Budget of the Federation.
Displaying an uncommon princely mien and indignation to the vexed outrageous budget manipulation, Sanusi exhibited rare courage and bravado which is least expected of a supposed corruptible Nigeria public servant by telling it to the faces of the lawmakers that their reported allowances is costing the federal government a quarter of its 2010 budget overhead. This audacity of the CBN governor ultimately not only serve as a litmus test to other public officers to be open to Nigerians in their budget processes but to shun corruption and the illicit act of padding government budgets to the detriment of the impoverished Nigerians.
There are various accounts that buttress this misnomer that the Nigeria budget process is laden with corruption. In 2006 precisely, a senate president and sitting minister in the then president Olusegun Obasanjo federal executive cabinet were accused of â€œBudget for Bribeâ€ allegation amounting to over N100million. Other members of the House of Representatives which include a current sitting Governor were also fingered but denied the alleged impropriety.
The National Assembly then set up an investigative committee to look at the Obasanjoâ€™s allegation. But alas the House particularly, exonerated its member accusing Obasanjo of passing judgment without trial. Obasanjo it will be recalled had rushed to national television to announce that members of the National Assembly had the penchant of over bloating budget estimates sent to it by the executive arm for consideration. The president had argued that such reasons accounted for why he could not implement the budgets progressively for the development of the country. He also accused the parliamentarians of padding the budget with ridiculous figures that were not accounted for on the long run while also faulting their push for constituency projects.
While the House of Representatives absolved its members of any complicity, senator Adolphous Wabara and professor Fabain Osuji, former minister of education were not lucky as both were striped of their exalted positions. It must be generally accepted that since 1999, the countryâ€™s budgeting process has been laced with absurdities such that government expenditure has only benefited political office holders both in the executive and legislative branch to the detriment of majority of Nigerians.
At this juncture, it is worthy to concede this modest effrontery to the Kano born prince in the current outlandish budget face-off between him and the NASS since it brought to the fore his gallantry. His disclosures no doubt is a welcomed development as it reinforces the apprehension in clear terms that in the face of governmentâ€™s dwindling revenue and threats to the national economy, the federal parliamentarians allocated to themselves a whooping N136.259 billion as recurrent overhead from the total N536.268 total federal government overhead representing 25.4 of the total 2010 annual budget.
Expectedly Nigerians loathe this lopsidedness, with no exceptions to political office holders across the country and the self seeking measures of the Omisore empanelled parliamentarians in particular and entire National Assembly. For if they must be patriotic and see their electorates first, then there is the need for a rethink for downward review by the Abuja lawmakers, while it is expected that the Director General of the Budget office of the Federation be summoned to shed more light on the controversial overheads. Because whether it is 25.4 percent or the finance Ministerâ€™s percentage computation of N158 billion of N3.9 trillion which is the clarion call by Nigerians and other key government institutions for downward review of the lawmakers allowances, period.
While we salute Sanusiâ€™s doggedness against the face of intimidation, we commend his undeterred posture to drum, point blank, to the federal lawmakers that they are fat cats milking the Nigerian treasury recklessly.
We greet this courage, and to the lawmakers, â€œWe say a word is enough for the wiseâ€.