Tuesday, 20 August 2013

N1tn spent on N'Assembly members in eight years - Ezekwesili

A former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, said Nigeria had spent over N1tn on the National Assembly members in the last eight years.

Ezekwesili, in a keynote address she delivered during one-day dialogue session on the 'Cost of governance in Nigeria, "added that  banks earned N699bn as interests last year  on loans secured by the government.
"Since 2005, the National Assembly members alone have been allocated N1tr,''she said while also lamenting that "82 per cent of Nigeria's budgetary cost goes for recurrent expenditure."

To buttress her claim that much was being spent servicing those in government, she said that " a research conducted in the United Kingdom identified Nigerian legislators as being the highest paid in the world."

Although she was applauded by participants at the session organised in Abuja by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre with support from Federal Public Administration Reform Programme in the UK, she drew flak  from the National Assembly members, who said her claim amounted to blackmail.

She challenged civil society groups to demand a mini-national dialogue that centres on good governance and the the release of the Steve Oronsaye report on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies.

She also pointed out that one of the greatest mistakes of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration under which she served twice as a minister was that Nigeria delved into democracy without necessarily doing away with a military mindset.

"There is a drawback to the military era. One major mistake of the government under which I served was that we simply got into democracy and did not spend reasonable time getting   every citizen; every leader and every institution to do away with militaristic ethos and principles from their minds," Ezekwesili added.

According to her, the social dilemma which the country currently finds itself would be overcome if stakeholders, especially law makers, consider  part-time legislation as a means of bringing down the cost of governance.

She said part-time lawmaking would ensure that the right people got into governance. "When I was in government, I was totally  debating public policies. We must debate public policies as a nation because if we don't do so, we will make silly mistakes because we don't involve the stakeholders. So policy debates must be encouraged. I feel sorry for any person who is fairly okay in this nation and doesn't care about the poor because there will be an implosion. Whatever treatment that is given to the poor and vulnerable in the society must matter to everybody because except we have social inclusion in the society, we stand the danger of implosion. This  has happened in other countries which ignored the vulnerable people.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld from Glo Mobile.

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