Nigeria

This Twitter video underscores why political offices must cease to serve as poverty alleviation scheme

A trending video on Twitter on Tuesday, sparked conversations around political office holders and their penchant for living large at the expense of the masses.

The man in the video seen pushing a truck says he had served as a councillor in Lagos, during the General Ibrahim Babangida regime, disclosing also that he earned N500 as salary at the time.

His claims have left some people shocked that a political office holder can actually live a “normal life” after leaving office – which has become a rare occurrence in this part of the world, as virtually every political office holder’s aim is to leave office enriched with taxpayers money when their primary aim should be service to the people.

Watch the video here:

While we do not advocate the pauperisation of public (former or serving) office holders, we also do not think that public office should be a poverty alleviation scheme as majority of today’s political class makes it look. Getting elected into public office is a call to service, not an opportunity to enrich one’s self. 

But the political class does not think so. When many clamour for elective positions, it is often for selfish reasons and the system has made public office attractive with bogus salaries and allowances, unjustifiable pensions and several other juicy perks – including salary for life in some cases – so much so that some people are even willing to kill to clinch a public office. This does not help the country in any way.

To move Nigeria forward, there is a need to get things right. We must push for constitutional reforms to make elective offices less attractive by cutting down all of the unnecessary expenses that have left the masses impoverished and stalled the growth and development of the country. This will help to free up money for developmental projects.

Constitutional reforms to make elective offices less attractive; is also bound to trigger electoral reforms that will bring some sanity to our electoral system.

Pension laws also need to be reformed because it is unfair that many Nigerians go home with almost nothing after several years of active service. Meanwhile, a politician who probably held office for four years gets to leave with outrageous pension package and allowances that are unjustifiable.

A former governor of Lagos, for instance, is entitled to six new cars every three years, approximately 100 per cent of the basic salary of a serving governor (N7.7m per annum), as well as furniture allowance, which is 300 per cent of their annual basic salary (N23.3m). And that is not all; he and his family are also entitled to free healthcare. While a former deputy governor is entitled to vehicles, medical insurance, fully-paid vacation, and other juicy bonuses.

Read more: Like Lagos; Kwara finally realises that cost of governance is critical to progress

In the video below, Omoyele Sowore, a human rights activist and a former presidential hopeful, breaks down the pathetic condition of minimum wage earners as compared to political officeholders. He said it will take an average Nigerian who earns thirty thousand naira (minimum wage), a whole thirty-eight years to make what a senator earns in Nigeria in a month. On the other hand, he said: it takes a professor who earns four hundred and fifty thousand per month about ten years to make it. 

He buttressed his point by saying “our problem is not wealth generation in Nigeria, but wealth distribution.” A statement virtually everyone would agree with.

Watch the video here:

In essence, there is more than enough to cater to the needs of Nigerians. It is rather pathetic that the political class has a penchant for amassing the nation’s wealth and looting the treasury. Coupled with this, the law does not favour the common man.

The mere fact that Employment in the public sector is subject to a mandatory retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of service…” is enough to show that the laws that guide the political class are quite different from the laws that guide the common man. All these run contrary to the constitutional provision, except for the academic staff of Universities whose compulsory retirement age is 65 years.

Our methods contrast sharply with the more developed world where public office holders lead a normal life just like every other citizen after leaving office. This is because their goal is to serve and not to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. It is high time we fixed our system and got things working as they should.

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