Olamide Francis: Nigerian Senate, Most Expensive Rubber Stamp - AMEBO ONLINE NEWSPAPER

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Olamide Francis: Nigerian Senate, Most Expensive Rubber Stamp

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The headline of leading newspapers in Nigeria on Thursday, January 20, 2022, was disheartening to read. Many of the dailies read, “Senate bows to Buhari.” The headlines were so because the Nigerian Senate, after a needlessly prolonged process, was finally dancing to the tune of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as regards the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. A few days before that day, I told friends that this Act would come through but not without Buhari— or whoever was running the country— getting what he wanted. Alas, the Senate, that’s supposedly the last hope of the masses, elected to check and balance any unruly executive power; the eyes of the people and the citizens’ mouthpiece, has abandoned their primary duty to become another extension of the executive. Let’s call a spade a spade; this current National Assembly is a rubber stamp and one of the most expensive in the world!

For a country like Nigeria splashing a ridiculous amount on lawmaking, one should expect better from the leadership of the Nigerian Senate. In 2019 Nigeria reportedly had the second-highest-paid federal legislators in the world (after Singapore) with each senator earning around N328,359,000 per year in salaries and allowances. The Senate is mandated to at least sit for 180 days a year, so you can calculate how much that is per sitting. For both legislative chambers, the annual cost for 109 Senators and 360 House of Representatives members is about N69 billion a year. According to a 2019 The PUNCH newspaper publication, that amount can pay 191,954 civil servants the minimum wage. We continue to spend this kind of money in a country that’s the poverty capital of the world with a majority of its population living on less than $2 a day. Yet, there is little or no democratic dividend to show for it.

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