Wednesday, 29 April 2015

APC, Those who Put Buhari Are as Corrupt As PDP- 80 years old Prof. A.B.C Nworah Says

“President Buhari Must Work Towards Reduction of Our Lawmakers Jumbo Salaries”- Prof. Dr. A.B.C Nworah

Prof. Dr. A.B.C Nworah

Professor (Dr.) Anthony Benjamin Chukwunwike (A.B.C) Nworah needs no formal introduction in the media and in the medical discipline. But for formality sake and for the interest of new readers, Prof. A.B.C Nworah is the Chief Medical Director of Nworah Hilltop Hospital and Maternity, Eyes Services, Amawbia in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Although 80 years old plus, the Doctor Per Excellence has through the print and electronic media, constantly bare his minds on the political, socio-economic, religious among other issues bordering the affairs of mankind worldwide as a social critic, analyst and statesman of international repute.


In this special chat with our reporter, OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU, the 80 years old Professor of Gynecology at Calvary Foundation Greece, speaks on the recent general elections, expectations of the elected officials, others.
The excerpt:

Rating the Recently Held General Elections in Nigeria?

Although there are so many obstacles in our electoral system, for the people within my age bracket and above, who have witnessed so many elections, I will describe the 2015 general elections as a step forward. We are improving.

The PVC that was introduced is a welcome development, and I am calling on the INEC to sustain it in the future elections. But the hindrances witnessed hitherto should be addressed holistically. We expect perfections in future elections.
The electorates and INEC officials also need to be orientated and re-orientated on what elections stand for. Election provides great opportunity for the masses to choose the right persons for optimum services.

Voters need not to be induced with money, ‘stomach infrastructure’ or even intimidation because of one politician or political party. Electorates must be always allowed to decide who governs or rules them.

Whether The Outcome Represents the interest of the masses

Yes! The outcome represents the popular interest of the voters. People wanted something different and went for it. They wanted change, and went for it. That is how it is overseas. There you don’t talk about missing ballots, ballots snatching, missing electoral materials and so on. They exercise their franchise without any form of inducement. That is why in Britain, you may have Conservative as the majority or ruling party today, then, Labour Party tomorrow. So it also exist in America; Republican today, Democrat tomorrow. The exchange in governance represents people’s popular view and speeds up development at all ramifications.

What Would Have Happened If The Outcome Was Tampered with

I must commend the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan. His action saved so many souls in this country. By conceding loss and congratulating the winner, General Buhari, blood bath was averted. If Jonathan had won, there would have been war because Northerners seem to have wanted their brother at all cost. I think the heaven saw it in advance and turned things around. So everyone should go to church or mosque to praise God for saving us from killings. We don’t know where we would have been by now. So, I must commend Jonathan. As a result of his action, today, the whole world is commending him. I am advising other African leaders and politicians to borrow leaf from his good sportsmanship. It is a welcome development worthy of emulation. You don’t kill or incite people to kill or foment trouble because you lost elections.

Nigerians expectations from President Buhari

I congratulate General Buhari on his victory. Nigerians want him to stand for transparency and accountability. We want him to fight corruption. On the jumbo pays and allowances of our legislators as a whole, particularly our federal legislators it is scandalous in a nation where the vast majority live in abject penury, and where mass unemployment has become the closest companion of the entire society. We want him to address the issue.

It must be noted that at N1million yearly salary of some senior civil servants, it will take each of them 30 years to earn what a federal legislator earns in one month, and the senior civil servant runs his domestic and social responsibilities including upkeep of his or her children without committing suicide. Why do our legislators need 30-times that amount each month? Are they not buying from the same market and running the same responsibilities? All we see from them are private helicopters, private jets, most expensive cars and most expensive houses at Abuja, London, New York, and all sorts of flamboyant life styles. Kindly go through the attached notes so that you can see my elaborate views on them, including my letter to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
I know he would have problems with most of our legislators who would like the status quo to remain, but he just have to stand firm as the nation would massively be behind him. Our legislators just have to think over satisfying their scheme greed, and thereby fatally bleeding the nation. It is actually not totally of their making own but that of the Revenue Allocation Commission & the frightened ill-orientated government. They must be told in clear terms that the nation cannot afford it any more.

Again, our President-Elect must not over-trust his officials on financial issues, as well as the various commissions working there or having worked there, ranging from the time of kuku to the present date. As we can deduce from various information media, there are often lots of sealed massive abuses. He should not sign the oil region budget just introduced. It is for a share-out.

On contracts and their staffing, I advice he makes it always mixed, i.e. each set-up would have about 50% or so as indigenes, and about 50% to other Nigerians, spanning across the various states. The same applies in the setting up of commissions so as to avert nepotisms and parochialisms, which have been the order of the past, and which often led to shielded mismanagement of funds.

On the issue of oil region militancy, Buhari must handle it with an open mind, just as his late brother, President Yar’dua, did. The boys really have a case, and it would be best to bring all the warring factions to a round table and try to reconcile them, leaving no group, no matter how small or feeble, uninvited.

Again, I must draw his attention to the proverbial plight of Igbos. The Yorubas simply hate the Igbos but are sly over it. They are their perennial competitors. Our incoming President should bear this in mind before they start advising on the fate of one Igbo man or the other. I schooled with them at King’s College Lagos, and worked for sometime in the West before hopping across overseas for studies. I am therefore not guessing. The present Lagos episode is a revealing example.

I am sure His Excellency has equally spent some time overseas. I am sure he has never seen cows and goats parading the streets. We can learn from them how they manage the situation.

On Security, Funds, we have seen how used and abused they are. The Northern experience, where every governor kept his funds tight to himself for the next election or for future business enterprises whilst his state is burning, should be an eye opener to everyone of us. Everyone was only looking up to the center for funds. The situation is not different in the South where most governors also hold their money tight for the same purposes and for chieftaincy titles. My question remains: why are these monies not accountable, and why can’t the balance be returned to the coffers, state or federal, even if some fast governors will easily strike deals with their legislators when and where the watching eyes of anti-crime commissions are also compromised?  

He should also checkmate the amount of money squandered in ‘feeding’ and in ‘entertainment’ of guests annually. They usually run in mounting billions. I know that most of these accountability and transparency drives would be an uphill task for him considering the people it would affect, but he just has to try. He really has no choice if this nation must survive, as these are the fundamental issues destroying the nation, and not whether one executive, or the other, state and national, awards contracts for one project or the other, which they of course eagerly do because of the contract inflations, or the prospects of re-awarding them.

Our President-Elect has to re-orientate the thinking and the values of this country to understand that this world is no substitute for heaven, and we must all leave it, leaving everything we have behind, enroute to heaven or to hell eternally. Therefore, whenever there a controversial bill, either from him or from the legislators, he should discuss it first with the party executives drawn together from each state so that the legislators, where he will really have the problems, would know where the party, and, by extension, the citizens stand, and it would not be “that stringent Buhari”.
 The cost of assembling the party executives together either at Abuja or everywhere else he may choose, is worth it.

Also, the incoming government must know that it will never be there forever; but for four years or more if Nigerians decide. Therefore, the winners must accommodate all irrespective of tribal, religious sentiments or political party inclinations. It is not about who voted for them but the interest of the country at large. So, President Buhari should not discriminate over the tribe or the state that voted for him most. Even if the majority of Igbos did not vote for him, there are host of Igbos who actually voted for him. He should consider those people and be magnanimity in victory.

You talked about the legislators remunerations, what of constituency Funds?

Certainly those who muted the establishment of constituency fund had the best of intensions in mind, as, in the first place, the legislators must show some evidence to their villagers that they are struggling for them, and that they are there not just talking. In developed economies, it does not arise as the villages and towns are good as the other, only with minimal difference in terms of social and economic infrastructures. Infact most factories are found in the rural towns and villages, as transport facilities pose no serious problems, unlike in the Third World, why the struggles for space in the cosmopolitan areas are excruciating. For the First World most citizens are looking towards patriotic, national, development and not the village polemics. Money in our case is therefore rightly allocated for the development of our villages in the national budget, but how is this money spent?

It is believed that the representatives would ensure that this money gets to the electorates; not necessarily in raw cash but in terms of well articulated projects, but what do we see? Over 90% of the funds do not go beyond the executives, the legislators, and the contractors, working together, as there is always an understanding between them on how the money is going to be used and misused. The electorate has no say in it. Infact many rural dwellers do not even know the meaning of Constituency Fund, or that it really exists. When during the elections the deceit-maniac legislators buy rice and tomatoes, and some “keke na peps” and “okadas” for the poorest of the poor, and they are in a vast majority, it is all praises and showers of good wishes for them, not knowing that what they were given were just crumbs from the main menu.

Let us look a little down to the figures. The average federal legislator is entitled to between N30million and N50million monthly to include his salary, allowances, and constituency funds. If one removes the allocations for salaries and allowances one still has between N20M & N35million monthly for the development of his constituency. For purposes of argument alone, if one were to buy only ‘keke na peps’ for his constituency each month, N1million would fetch around ‘3-4 keke na peps’ in the month and N25million would buy roughly 90-100 kekes, in which case, in a year his constituency would expect 1200 such vehicles, or its equivalent in other forms of development as may be agreed upon by them. It simply means that the legislator pockets the money for at least 100 kekes each month, or 1200-1500 such vehicles each year, and for the four years, a total of 5000-6000 vehicles. When the elections are around, they would come around with 10-20 vehicles and keep the money for about 4500 vehicles to themselves. What greater business can be better than this? If the demand is on motorcycles alone, it can safely purchase 25 thousand okadas.

If he were to engage the jobless in his constituency on skill acquisition trainings, only with an allowance of N20,000 monthly, he would be turning out about 125 artisans each month from N25million monthly allocation. If he were just to be feeding the widows alone at N10,000 each, 250 widows would be lining up at his office every month. No, as elections draw near he rushes about 100 bags of rice to them, keeping the balance of about 500,000 to himself or herself for the year and about two million bags for the 4-year period of tenure.

It would also be noted that at N1million per year, which is already one the upper limit of most salaries generally, it would take a senior civil servants 30 years to earn what a federal legislator earns in one month. It must also be realised that at N20,000 each, one million naira would feed 50 unemployed graduates each month and N20million would feed 1000 graduates monthly, and this is what is heartlessly pocketed by each legislator each month. The nation just cannot afford it any longer.

It must also not be forgotten that as actors, actresses and film stars, they are given regular allowances for their wardrobes, and N15,000 provided each day for a plate of rice in a hotel. Yes, they are eating gold and diamond there, not rice. Their televisions and newspapers, inter alia, have to be richly paid for. We know that men of the Third World, including Nigerians have difficulty in releasing public funds, (often regarded as no man’s money), that get into their hands, partly out of poverty and viciousness, and partly out of future uncertainties, a situation one hardly finds in developed world, each one being conscious of the of the bad name it would bring him or her. Here in Nigeria, even the monies meant for people in distress like those displaced by wars, floods or other natural and unnatural disasters are brutalized by their facilitators. One would however not expect such from an Honourable member if honour, and not money, is what he is after.

Unfortunately, one cannot easily change the gene. Kleptomania is almost becoming our racial or environmental endowment whereby one hardly finds someone to trust, no matter his pronouncements or posturing. If the total removal of constituency will cause a serious jolt, then let it be cut down to 20% of what it is now. If for any reason it must remain sacrosanct despite its obvious liabilities to the electorates and the state, then independent monitoring teams should be set-up to include the President Generals of various communities or acceptable leaders and traditional rulers of each constituency, to be supervising their utilizations, and the allocations to each constituency published in the papers as it is done with that of states and local governments. The legislators should be formally informed of this so that they would not start antagonizing the monitors as intruders.

The nation would not like to believe that the Constituency Funds are meant as mere patting on the back for talking for part of the day or of the week, or as a reimbursement for election expenses, or perhaps as “PRs” against any proposed disciplinary action on the executives, and thereby sending the masses to chilling penury. We need to be thoroughly re-orientated on this.

Surely it is not an easy task psychologically, for the President but with the will to salvage the nation from precipice, there is actually no other alternative. And if addressed, our electoral system and elections would become inspiring. The people with interest to serve will emerge as lawmakers and members of executives. We shall have retired teachers, retired head masters, etc at legislative arms because most of those representing us today are there for their own pockets not for the interest of the masses. That is why they take election as a do or die affair.

    

Prof. A.B.C Nworah



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