Sunday, December 5, 2010


5th December, 2010
NASS JUMBO PAY: NIGERIANS FACE DICTATORSHIP OF THE LEGISLATURE The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, revealed last week that the National Assembly (NASS) consumes 25% of Nigeria’s annual total overhead cost. Many others had earlier disclosed that colossal amounts are being spent on the same NASS. The CBN governor has also been invited by the Senate to defend his position.
 The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) finds these developments curious and disheartening. The people’s representatives are portraying themselves as insensitive to the plight of the jamaheer (masses). The legislature is busy arrogating to itself all the milk and honey in the land while the people ransack dustbins for leftovers before they can eat. The proletariat is toiling day and night but it is being denied adequate pay for its sweat. Labour’s demand for a survival minimum wage of N18,000 was ignored until a national strike had to be called and until lives were lost over the demand. Yet members of the NASS felt no qualms allocating jumbo pay to themselves.

What we find most disturbing is the harassment of the CBN governor by Senate when he was invited to defend his revelations on Wednesday. The questions hauled at him by members of Senate were nothing short of tactics in blackmail, coercion and intimidation. Otherwise why should any senator ask the CBN governor if he was still interested in his job? It reminds us of the manner Senate gagged Professor Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he alerted the nation about delays in the Electoral Act. Senate promptly invited him and he was told, “You talk too much”.

We find this phenomenon quite disturbing. We cannot have a free and fair election if the man at the helm of affairs of the highest electoral body is not free to pass comments. MURIC is therefore asking the question: How independent is the ‘Independent’ National Electoral Commission? The NASS is fast becoming dictatorial. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whereas democracy entails freedom of speech, our NASS is suppressing free speech. Also, whereas democracy necessitates separation of powers whereby each component is independent of the other, the NASS seeks to strangulate other arms of governance.

MURIC rejects the dictatorial proclivities of the NASS. This august body is fast eroding the powers of other arms. It has also constituted itself into a threat to free speech, justice and fair play. It is turning the theory of the separation of powers into sheer illusion. The NASS has not demonstrated any readiness to make sacrifices, rather it has become an Oliver Twist, asking for more and more while the jamaheer are hungry, naked and homeless.

True leaders of the people are expected to make sacrifices which the people can emulate. The whole anatomy of the Nigerian nation lies prostrate on a sick bed with members of the NASS as bedbugs sucking its blood dry. The attitude of members of the NASS seems to tell us that many of them came in through the backdoor. The recent court pronouncements on election cases are didactic in this regard. MURIC is obligated to ask again: are these the true representatives of the people? Did these people win free and fair elections?

We call on civil society to act quickly and save the jamaheer from the totalitarian tendencies of the NASS before it becomes a hydra-headed monster with jaws wide open to swallow up the social order.

Dr. Is-haq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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