Lawmakers’ Lavish Prado Vehicles Reflect Our Ailing System by Jide Oluwajuyitan

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Nigerian lawmakers have often been criticized for flouting the very laws meant to regulate their conduct, leading many to view them as self-serving rather than serving the interests of the citizens they represent. This perception is not baseless, as it’s evident from their actions and decisions. Nigerian lawmakers have faced accusations of awarding themselves extravagant monthly salaries ranging from N20 million to N30 million, which is far beyond the constitutionally stipulated salary ceiling set by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). This practice has earned them the dubious distinction of being among the world’s highest-paid lawmakers, with the influential London Economist branding Nigeria’s pay structure as “the most unjust and lopsided in the world” back in 2013.

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The issue of lawmaker remuneration goes beyond high salaries. The RMFAC revealed that lawmakers are not entitled to operational vehicles but can opt for car loans ranging between N7.9 million and N8.1 million. Despite this, the Senate, in defiance of guidelines, spent N4.7 billion on Peugeot 508 saloon cars in 2015 and a similar amount on Toyota Camry saloon cars in 2020 for its members. This profligate expenditure on “operational vehicles” for 469 lawmakers during a period of economic hardship and increased living costs outraged many Nigerians.

At a time when ordinary citizens struggle to afford daily commutes due to rising transportation costs resulting from fuel subsidy removal, when the government is negotiating with labor unions to prevent strikes and economic shutdowns, and when efforts are being made to provide financial relief to the most vulnerable in the country, the acquisition of Prado vehicles appears insensitive. Furthermore, Nigeria already has local vehicle manufacturers like Innoson, Nords, Pro-Force, and others producing high-quality vehicles, including SUVs. In this context, the importation of foreign-built vehicles using scarce foreign exchange is seen as counterproductive, as it exports jobs and goes against the “Buy Nigeria to grow the Naira” philosophy.

Yet, the ostentatious behavior of lawmakers and their financial improprieties is merely a symptom of a more significant ailment plaguing Nigeria. The country’s political socialization process was severely disrupted by military rule, leaving a legacy of politicians who have adopted behaviors reminiscent of an occupying army, looting their territories. Soon after the transition to civilian rule in 1999, a slew of petroleum importation policies allowed lawmakers and business entities with military connections to exploit fuel import licenses, leading to the theft of about N1.7 trillion through fuel subsidies.

This legacy of greed and unethical behavior continued with the privatization of state-owned assets, where political elites sold off national investments worth approximately $100 billion for a paltry $1.5 billion. It persisted with the monetization policy, which enabled civil servants and lawmakers, including prominent figures like Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Senate President David Mark, and CBN Governor Chukwuma Soludo, to purchase official residences at significantly reduced costs.

Successive leaders of the National Assembly, while entrusted with legislative responsibilities, had their own controversies. Some were accused of padding budgets to allocate millions to their constituencies, while others faced removal or scandal due to certificate falsification, contract inflation, or corruption allegations. All this, while the country grappled with enormous challenges, was a testament to a legislature perceived as predatory.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former CBN Governor, informed Nigerians that federal legislators had consumed about 25% of the federal government budget. Justice Kayode Eso, a former Supreme Court Justice, warned against such financial mismanagement, and ex-President Obasanjo famously referred to the National Assembly as a gathering of “looters and thieves.”

While the transgressions of lawmakers, regional disparities, political intrigue, and economic sabotage are troubling, they represent symptoms of a more profound ailment within the Nigerian system. Addressing these challenges requires going beyond the legislative branch and looking at the broader political structure. The roots of these issues are deeply embedded in the country’s governance framework.

The recent controversy surrounding the purchase of N5.7 billion worth of Prado vehicles should serve as a wake-up call. To avoid the pitfalls of his predecessors, the president must confront the systemic issues affecting Nigeria and work toward addressing the foundational problems in the nation’s governance structure. Playing the ostrich will only perpetuate these issues, hindering Nigeria’s progress.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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