Nigerians are at it again. Always finding faults, where none exist, in everything about this paradise called Nigeria. Well, I find it difficult to blame them since the worth of a thing is often unknown until you lose it. This time around, they have started complaining about the so-called staggering pay our hardworking Senators are earning. I have gone over and over the figures hoping to figure out what is staggering about them, and I have not found one thing. Please, tell me what is staggering about a basic salary of ₦750,000? Okay, sorry, plus a sitting allowance/running cost of ₦13.5 million. And, yeah, not to forget the annual ₦200 million added to that for constituency allowance (code name for personal convenience allowance), among other petty additions. Tell me, what is staggering about this – except of course that it is in fact staggeringly small!
Our senators deserve more than this paltry sum. I mean; need I remind us that ours is one of the richest countries of the world, with one of the lowest poverty and unemployment rates, as well as a towering human development index ranking? With all this in mind, why should any sane person have a problem with our Senators earning ₦370 million per annum? Per annum, ladies, gentlemen and critics! Not even per week or per month. Haba!
Let us not forget that Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where law-making is a full-time job. These people, with their impeccable love for Nigeria, have abandoned everything – their jobs, their families, their businesses – just to serve this country 24/7. They hardly even have time for themselves, which explains why many of them often sleep during plenary sessions. They spend hours upon hours deliberating how Nigeria can be much better than she already is. Why else do we think they are called “honourable”? It is because of the daunting, selfless and, needless to say, honourable, nature of the job. The least we can do is pay them a little above the national minimum wage – say, about three or four more zeros. We are only encouraging them to work more with this small incentive.
[KiwiClickToTweet tweet=”They hardly even have time for themselves, which explains why many of them often sleep during plenaries.” quote=”They hardly even have time for themselves, which explains why many of them often sleep during plenary sessions.”]
Not only are our Senators hardworking and selfless, they are also loaded with lots of experience – which of course cannot be bought in the market, even black ones. Many of them are ex-members of Houses of Assembly and the House of Representative. Some of them have even served one or two terms as Governors. Not only that, they are equally blessed with great academic and professional achievements. Take a look at the Great Senator Dino Melaye for instance who graduated with a remarkable third class from Ahmadu Bello University when his mates were dropping out, and who (almost got away with the claim that he) graduated from both Harvard University and the London School of Economics.
Another fine Senator is David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, GCON, whose chain of experience is almost as long as his name. Not only is he a retired Nigerian Army Brigadier General and former Military Governor of Niger state, he was also Senate President for a whopping eight years. Yet, he has come back yet again to serve in the house. And let us not cast aside our very own Ben Murray-Bruce, the founder of Silverbird Group. Even if you question this man’s experience, you certainly cannot match his common sense.
Finally, the lifestyle of a Senator is not easy to sustain. I am in fact sure many of them are constantly broke because of unending expenses. They have to send their children to the best schools in the world, they have to own luxury mansions both home and abroad to showcase the wealth Jehovah has blessed Nigeria with, they have to employ about a hundred staff (you know, cooks, car drivers, gatekeepers, phone holders, social media assistants, twitter handlers, and that kinda thing), they have to wear only designer attires imported from the abroad (including agbadas and babarigas) – as all stated under Section 419, subsections 1 – 6 of the 1999 constitution (passed, by the way, by none other than “we the people of Nigeria”).
Our Senators are also always victimised up and down with requests from everybody at every event. One 2013 study in fact shows that the average Senator gets up to 10,000 emails daily requesting for one support or the other. They therefore end up spending 90% of the salary given to them by the people back on the same people. It is pathetic. Our senators have become the primary source of Externally Generated Revenue for student organisations, NGOs among other bodies. And, of course, the saints they are, they always find it difficult to say “no” to these requests.
So, fellow Nigerians, the only debate that is worthy of our time is simply how much more we should add to the insufficient allowances of our Senators, not whether it is too much or not. The fate of any country lies in the quality of the laws that guide it. And the quality of the laws depends on the lifestyle of the Senators. Let us therefore treat our Senators as kings, even though we starve and die awful deaths in the process. I assure you it is worth it. There is no accomplishment greater than having a minute silence in your honour on the floor of the Red Chambers. And if, perchance, our dear Senators are too busy to do this while legislating for the remaining souls alive, don’t worry for you are a martyr nonetheless. A most patriotic one.