Shortly after the 2015 general elections, then Senator-elect from Kogi State, Dino Melaye while appearing on a Channels TV programme vowed to champion a campaign for salary cut for federal lawmakers. Melaye said lawmakers must sacrifice their comfort and allow a pay cut to yield money that could be used for developmental projects and proper oversight role.
Soon after that, another Senator-elect at the time, Ben Murray-Bruce – who seems to be more active on Twitter than the red chamber these days – took to the social media to reel out his action plans when he eventually gets to the Senate. He became a star of some sort when he promised that he would fight to ensure that the cost of governance is reduced while more resources are devoted to the welfare of the populace.
The Senate did set up an ad hoc committee to review the salaries and allowances of lawmakers after the 8th Senate was inaugurated. But when the Senator James Manager-led committee submitted its report and the Senate decided to debate the report in an ‘executive’ session instead of doing so openly, it became clear that the Senators had no intention whatsoever of cutting their huge allowances. Nothing has been heard of the report ever since.
The Senate, as presently constituted has proved over and over again that they are only after their personal interests. For example, while they had a protracted debate on the budget with no sense of urgency in spite of the adverse effect the delay is having on the economy (not entirely their fault though), they have chosen to give an accelerated hearing to a bill seeking to amend the Code of Conduct Act in order to shield them from the consequences of their corrupt ways.
This Senate is out of touch with reality. While many of their constituents are being owed several months of salaries in their respective states and in the face of the current economic challenges being faced by Nigerians, they have chosen to acquire overpriced vehicles at the expense of taxpayers. Interestingly, many of them have spent more time following Bukola Saraki to the Code of Conduct Tribunal than they have spent in their constituencies.
Though we have not been so blessed with good leaders in the past, there is hardly any set of Senators that has treated Nigerians with much contempt and disdain like the present one. From attempting to amend Code of Conduct Acts to summoning the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal while the trial of the Senate President is ongoing, to ‘cornering’ funds appropriated for infrastructural development in the budget into their constituency projects, they have laid bare their greed and selfishness for all to see.
This Senate is a waste of scarce resources and serves no interest of the people. Maybe it’s time to scrap it once and for all!