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Abubakar Alkali Sokoto. Email: alkalizai@yahoo.com
Councillors Quarters,
Runjin Sambo.
Sokoto state


 

 

 

Close the Nigerian Senate and Cut down the Size of House of Representatives by 75% to Rescue Nigeria out of Economic Recession

by Abubakar Alkali Sokoto
 
Tell a friend:

In these times of recession and economic squeeze, Nigeria has to make hard choices and live within its means. The hard choices that we need to make are NOT to sell our national assets to desperate scammers or borrow from the Bretton wood institutions to keep our country perpetually under colonial bondage. The solution to the current economic recession in Nigeria lies in applying the simple, legendary example set by Senegal in September 2012.

When Senegal closed down its senate in September 2012 to raise cash to help victims affected by flood disaster, many people raised their hands and commended President Macky Sall’s government. The Senegalese senators fought vehemently to retain their seats but lost the votes at a joint sitting of the Senegalese parliament. The Senegalese government vowed to use the $15 million raised through the closure of the senate to not only offer emergency assistance to the affected residents but also to prevent further flood disasters. It was a landmark decision by the Senegalese government to close the senate and rescue their country from economic recession and turmoil.

 

 

 

 

Parity can be drawn between Senegal devastated by flood in September 2012 and Nigeria overwhelmed by economic recession in September 2016. If Senegal closed down its senate and invested the savings in helping its citizens, Nigeria should also close down its senate and downsize the House of Representatives by 75% to help its citizens currently squeezed by economic recession.

By closing down its senate, Senegal was simply giving democracy its true meaning as established by one of the most charismatic leaders in living memory, former American President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) who defined democracy as a government OF the people BY the people and FOR the people.

The $15m raised by closing down the Senegalese senate could well be the equivalent pocket money of our ‘distinguished’ senate President which was padded into the 2016 budget. By the way, our own senate President is currently undergoing trial for alleged corruption for a total sum which could be as much as the economy of Senegal. Of course, His ‘distinguished’ colleagues are solidly behind him and have consistently told Nigerians that ‘Saraki is innocent’. It is only in Nigeria that Saraki will still remain on his seat after the alleged monumental fraud and corruption he committed against Nigeria.

Each senator costs Nigeria about N1 billion every month aside other luxuries such as free exotic ‘official’ cars, free travels around the world, free medical care abroad etc. How will Nigeria not fall into recession? It is alleged that each Nigerian senator earns more than the President of the United States despite the debilitating poverty in our country.  The extra-large size of government has kept the average Nigerian in perpetually poverty while a select few use the machinery of state for personal aggrandisement.  

It is without doubt that there is a political angle to the current economic recession facing Nigeria. There is so much money concentrated in the hands of very few government officials at the expense of majority of Nigerians who wallow in abject poverty. Recurrent expenditure is about 90% with only 10% devoted for capital projects. How will democracy work for the average Nigerian under this distorted sharing formula?

The revenue sharing formula as stipulated by the revenue mobilisation allocation and fiscal commission (RMAFC) is also hugely disproportionate and counterproductive to development goals of our country. The federal government takes about 56% (which it doesn’t need) of the revenue accruable to the federation account, states take about 24% while local governments are allocated 20%. The states also collect the 20% meant for local governments under the so-called Joint local government account. Local governments should have at least 50% of the revenue from the federation account because they are closer to the grassroots.

How will Nigeria not be in recession when the speaker House of Representatives (HoR) Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara allegedly, illegally and in league with 3 other named principal officers of the HoR padded the budget to the tune of N40 billion which they allocated to themselves under the guise of ‘developing their constituency?

The speaker even has the temerity to tell Nigerians that padding is NOT illegal. On top of that, members of the House of Representatives said Dogara has committed NO CRIME and even wore green mufflers on the floor of the house with the inscription ‘YAKUBU DOGARA’ in solidarity with the speaker.

It doesn’t really matter since all senators and members of HoR are benefitting from the fraud while majority of Nigerians are dying of hunger. Does it?

The economic and financial crimes commission (EFCC) is constitutionally empowered to investigate the budget padding scandal in the House of Representatives. Why is the EFCC keeping mute on the budget padding scandal despite numerous petitions submitted to the EFCC urging the anti-crime watchdog to investigate Speaker Dogara, Abdulmumin Jibrin the whistleblower and others?

It is fair to say that the senate and HoR caused the economic recession that Nigeria finds itself today as a result of the monumental corruption going on in these chambers. The national assembly has become a haven of corruption and must be sanitised if Nigeria is to move forward. Close down the senate and downsize the House of Representatives because they have no role in national development except to share the national cake.

The average Nigerian will tell you that our senators and representatives don’t make any contribution to the development of our country except to share our money.  

If Senegal whose population is just about 13 million people can respect democracy and close its senate to help its people in the face of economic recession and turmoil, why can’t Nigeria do the same in the face of the current economic recession and excruciating hardship amongst majority of its citizens?

It is no longer news that Nigeria’s economy is in recession and the good people of Nigeria are currently reeling from hardship occasioned by the fall in global oil prices made even worse by senseless attacks on oil infrastructure by the Niger Delta terrorists. What is news however, is that closing the Nigerian senate and cutting down the size of the house of representatives to 2 representatives per state (For example one HoR representative each for Lagos North and Lagos South) will save 25% of our national budget which can be ploughed back to get our economy out of recession.

Certainly, the solution is NOT the sale of our oil assets such as the Nigerian Liquefied gas company or any other national treasure for that matter. Those canvassing for the sale of the nation’s oil assets should please save their breaths because the President Buhari that I know will NEVER sell Nigeria’s oil assets or any other treasure to brisk businessmen who are on the side-line waiting to short-change Nigeria. The risk of selling Nigeria’s oil assets to pay our way out of recession is too great.

Borrowing from the Bretton wood institutions such as the International monetary fund (IMF) and the World Bank to rescue our economy from recession is NOT the best option for two reasons: One is that it will mean that our economy is effectively designed on perpetual borrowing (once you get into borrowing from the IMF, you may never get out of it) which will place us on the whims and caprices of the IMF and the world bank.

The other reason is that the Bretton wood institutions will place some stringent and obnoxious conditions for us such as devaluing the Naira. Recall that the IMF boss, Christine Lagarde came to Nigeria to meet President Buhari and asked him to consider devaluing the Naira. Borrowing from the Bretton wood institutions will mean giving the world powers the chance to devalue the Naira which by the way is not in the best interest of the economic development of our country.

Instead of asking the world powers to borrow us funds, why don’t we ask them to assist us and repatriate stolen Nigerian funds and assets to Nigeria? It is estimated that over N50 Trillion Naira including unmovable assets stolen from the Nigerian treasury is currently stashed away in western countries. The world powers should help President Buhari repatriate these funds back to Nigeria so that Nigeria’s economy can get out of recession and empower the PMB administration to effectively fight Boko haram, poverty and build strong institutions.

Selling off our oil treasures such as the LNG is misplaced privatisation in disguise and will not help Nigeria out of recession. If anything, it will only mortgage the economy of this country to shrewd businessmen and corrupt politicians who are out to make money at all costs. No country sells the mainstay of its economy just to cover gaps of recession. Besides, why sell our oil treasures when we can drastically cut down the size of government to make savings and fight our way out of recession?

In mathematical terms, closing the senate and downsizing the HoR by 75% will save Nigeria about N1.5 Trillion which is the equivalent of $5 billion. It is estimated that Nigeria needs about $15 billion to wriggle out of recession. The $5 billion that will be saved from the closure of the senate and downsizing the HoR means that Nigeria needs a balance of $10 billion. The $5 billion saved from the closure of the senate will go a long way in fixing recession and stabilising the economy.

It has also been officially confirmed that Nigeria has so far recovered over N1 trillion naira through the on-going anti-corruption campaign. This is another window to effect a short and medium term palliative to the economic recession.

One wonders how Nigeria will continue to retain the current size of the national assembly even in the face of the alarming poverty amongst its citizens.

Of course establishing the national assembly is a constitutional matter. Sections 47, 48 and 49 of the 1999 constitution are clear on the establishment of the national assembly. Section 48 states that ‘there shall be 3 senators from each state and one from the federal capital territory (FCT), while section 49 was clear that there shall be 360 members of the HoR representing constituencies of nearly equal population as far as possible, provided that no constituency shall fall within more than one state.

Albeit the national assembly is a constitutional matter, there is consensus and concurrence of opinion amongst majority of Nigerians that the national assembly is only but a haven of corruption and fraud. Our senators and representatives are the highest paid in the whole world and the least productive.

In these times of recession and economic squeeze, Nigeria has to make hard choices and live within its means. The hard choices that we need to make are NOT to sell our national assets to desperate scammers or borrow from the Bretton wood institutions to keep our country perpetually under colonial bondage. The solution to the current economic recession in Nigeria lies in applying the simple, legendary example set by Senegal in September 2012.  

  

 

 

 

 




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