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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, PHENOMENON OF CORRUPTION, AND THE 2017 NATIONAL BUDGET OF THE MINISTRY OF POWER, WORKS AND HOUSING

By Rasak Ayanlakin (DEMOCRAT) 

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” – Dr. Martin Luther King 

Till now, I wonder how we have managed to come up with legislators presently representing us in the national assembly. I start to contemplate whether we had truly spent frustrating hours queuing under the hot sun to cast our votes for them or some unseen creatures had impersonated us to vote them.

Growing number of commentators and other conscious citizens had accused the national assembly of fantastic and unabated corruption – the national assembly and some ignorant citizens had one time or the other in response, vomited foul substances from their mouths accusing their popular critics of saying some random bullshits.

Our legislators had searched their intellectual reservoirs and what they could come up with was to reduce funds for some key projects of the three-in-one ministry headed by Babatunde Fashola and allocated the money to some frivolous ones. To them, it is a smart idea to divert our funds to projects that are not bankable enough to guarantee our good living standards and welfare.

According to the honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), “As long as budgets planned to deliver life changing infrastructure are cut into small pieces, Nigeria will continue to have small projects that are not life changing, and big projects that have not been completed in 17 years . If a project would cost N15 billion and the contractor gets only a fraction of that, then things won’t move. Success should be defined by how many projects an administration is able to complete or set on the path of irreversible completion and not how many poorly funded contracts are awarded,” (end of quote).

The Minister had lamented the budget of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced by the National Assembly from N31 billion to N10 billion. The budget of the 2nd Niger Bridge was reduced from N15 billion to N10 billion.

Conscious citizens, social media commentators, students’ communities, traders and activists including the prominent activist lawyer Femi Falana had as well questioned the crudest unconstitutionalities surrounding the alterations of the budgets coordinated the by National Assembly purposely to increase their share of the budgets.   

Nigerians must do themselves the favor of remaining irrevocably committed to the cause of good, accountable and transparent governance. They must start to think about making a very wise choice of who will represent their interests in the national assembly – and not people that would continue to gain solace in padding and manipulating the budgets in their personal interests.

Our people had experienced decades of legislative misrule and misguidance - lacunas had refused to quit our laws - bench-warmers had not ceased dominating the hallowed chambers - whilst the national assembly had been reduced to the crudest absurdity and drama of shames and confusion gains unspeakable momentum.

Consequently we must avoid choosing legislators whose intentions are to accumulate power for self promotion, self aggrandizement, pocket doctoration and financial lobotomization.

In the Nigerian context, when you see somebody aspiring to become a legislator – usually what he is saying is “give me power – let me use the same power to inflate my pocket, and crush under my feet speakers of truths and silence preachers of facts”.

The present National Assembly had been subjected to a serious examination and assessment – and as a social media commentator, I have found myself in a situation that requires critical conclusions. It is my respectful submission that we must rise above unproductive legislations, cum theatre of shames and provocations.

Common sense tells us this present National Assembly has nothing to offer the good people of Nigeria - the crying masses and the hungry populace. Our electricity in its contemporariness still remains epileptic – National Assembly reduces budgets. Our major roads, high ways and bridges had become graveyards – they reduce budgets. Our houses are dilapidated and sub-standards – they reduce budgets.

This is the major reason why our ministers have no other projects to present to the National Assembly than what their predecessors had once presented which the National Assembly has in its own interests underfunded – and now they have become abandoned projects and as well inherited problems for the new ministers. If ugly scenario of this kind is not curbed at its growing stage – then the cruel recycling of the scenario will become inevitable.

It has become our traditions and customs to point blaming fingers at our successive ministers for the epileptic power supply, poor and inadequate housing and the graveyards supposedly provided as roads by our governments – when in the actual sense the national assembly remains the most active dramatis personae in this drama of profligacy and prodigality.

We must remain irrevocably committed to the cause of good governance, transparency, financial prudence and judicious spending of our commonwealth.

People have succumbed to profligacy and political decay because the National Assembly in its acclaimed smartness had developed tactics of intimidation that would silence potential critics.

To live in Nigeria is like living in darkness, weakening hunger and abject poverty. A major reason that has been responsible for her socio-economic stagnation and retardation is the phenomenon of corruption. This phenomenon has bastardized our economy and destroyed our cherished national values.

This is what the eventual outcome becomes when you choose chronic looters as legislators to probe widespread corruption. Corruption must be sent on exile before it does that to us. Corruption must be assassinated before it assassinates us. Corruption must be shut down before it shuts down our country.

Conclusively, it is now of paramount importance that all Nigerians be sensitized without any modicum of sentiments and biases. Nigerians must be told and be aware that the action of the National Assembly to have altered the budget to their own political taste is one of the gravest consequences of unrivalled and unparalleled corruption that characterized the legislative processes and responsibilities in their entireties.

Rasak Ayanlakin (DEMOCRAT) is a social media commentator, a Nigerian student advocate of good governance and justice.

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