By Victor Ikhatalor
Only the President and Vice President shall be entitled to remuneration after office; – Any and all such appropriations not prescribed by the RMAFC, shall be deemed criminal, null, and void. A sledgehammer must be taken to the recurrent expenditure component of our national and sub-national budgets.
By what right of conquest, can the political ruling class, their appendages and court jesters continue the most odious and unsustainable allocation of our resources taken by so few from so many! By what right, can our political and public office holders continue the perpetuation of a feudal system where they take much more than the best of our – Scientists, Doctors, Professors, Entertainers, Entrepreneurs, Professionals e.t.c ; – the best of our people! By what right do we continue in infamy, to drown our resources supporting our lords and princes in, and out of office to live in opulence and decadence!
It was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States of America, who said; – “a society that values it’s privileges above its principles soon loses both”. Faced with an ever-burgeoning debt profile, declining revenue, and warnings by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, that Covid-19 will unleash such recession as has not been seen in decades; – the conspiracy of silence endures in a country that drains 70% of its resources in recurrent expenditure.
A “Silence”, so pervasive, that it reminds of the moving pictures; “Depicting all-conquering Nazi German troops marching for the first time through the arc de triomphe in Paris,1940 – ‘The sounds of the jackboots on the cobblestones were accompanied by the eerie silence of the on watching public’ – a people conquered”. Reminiscent of the collaborative silence of Marshall Petain and the Vichy’s – the arrogated sentinels of the French people at the time; – the sentinels of the Nigerian estate are one in collaborative silence with the Nigerian Political Ruling Class.
The allure and sheer monstrosity of pecuniary benefits accruable to political office holders are so enticingly intoxicating, that sentinels, e.g, in the guise of Labour Unions cannot wait themselves to taste from that nectar. One can only but imagine the furore of Labour Unions in saner climes if but a fraction of what our political class get away with is contemplated in their jurisdictions. Confronted with unlivable wages and widespread default in getting them; – Nigerian Labour leaders have consistently been curiously immobile in leading and advocating the stop, the cessation, of the critical and ongoing biased sharing of the “yams in the Nigerian barn”.
In the face of economic upheaval brought on by Covid -19, it has not, and should not come as a surprise that there has been no groundswell from the Nigerian political class; – from those in authority before or now, to change the narrative. Other than cursory assertions that can only be suspected to be motivated by the usual politicians inclination to hug the klieg lights; – the Nigerian political class, with emphasis on those privileged to be in authority today, cannot be relied upon to see these times as providential, – to seize the moment to act for the good of the Commonwealth. Alas, their “caste”, will revert to type; – Conquerors : holding unto their spoils at all cost.
In a time when hard and resolute decisions are called for, the Nigerian political ruling class will choose cosmetic ones to reinforce their position. Remuneration of all political and public office holders in the country should henceforth be decided using the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) salary scale. Such remuneration can only be determined by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), and no legislative body or authority shall have power under any guise to arbitrarily appropriate remuneration. Only the President and Vice President shall be entitled to remuneration after office; – Any and all such appropriations not prescribed by the RMAFC, shall be deemed criminal, null, and void. A sledgehammer must be taken to the recurrent expenditure component of our national and sub-national budgets. Personnel costs, with particular emphasis on overhead costs, must be drastically reduced. Obscure drowning of security votes and other frivolous, superfluous, wasteful expenditure must be cut out.
To put into context the continuing cost of upholding the privileges of a “caste”; – let us juxtapose the sad, debilitated state of the Nigerian educational sector bedeviled by scant allocation and stand it side by side with but a single university in the United States. The university of California with a budget of close to 40 Billion Dollars, which is approximately, 15 Trillion Naira; – is run with an appropriate and accountable standard, hallmarking priorities and clear targets, whereas a Nation State in Nigeria, with a lesser budget is saddled with padding, obliqueness, frivolities and unaccountability in it’s appropriations.
If for so long we have been culpable by our silence; – inadvertently acquiescing to have been conquered, thus giving force to the Latin proverb – ” Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit (He who is silent, when he ought to have spoken and was able to, is taken to agree)”; – then for for the sake of preserving our Commonwealth, we must speak. The conquerors jackboots continue to pound our cobblestones and we are increasingly impoverished. The silence accorded the “Nazis”, was broken when ordinary French men and women resisted. It must fall on us, in our time, through peaceful but unrelenting citizen advocacy to break the “Silence”.
Victor Ikhatalor is a Public Affairs Analyst.