Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila is the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives from Lagos state. In this interview culled from The PUNCH, the Lawmaker supports the call for a reduction in the allowances of National Assembly members but with a caveat. Want to know what it is, read excerpts below:
“It is a remedy, if it’s thought out properly. If it is a remedy, it’s absolutely welcomed by me. But I think it’s not about allowances neither is it about being full-time or part-time; I think it’s about commitment and doing the right thing. I think it is about putting the right people in the right offices. If you cut the time and allowances, as long as you don’t have the right calibre of people that will deliver what needs to be delivered, you are going to get same results. It is called ‘garbage in garbage out.’ For me, it is a welcome development if we look at it.
“What I want to say on the issue of allowances is that we should take a global look and see whether truly, Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world. From my research, they appear not to be but if that is the case, then, we should look at it, slash it wherever we want to slash it. Anything that will give better performance, I am all for it. What is important is that we grow our democracy and deliver the dividends to all Nigerians wherever they may be.”
Read Hon. Gbajabiamila’s justification for the huge allowances received by Nigerian legislators in comparison to their counterparts in the U.S.
“Again, it is not enough to talk about allowances without talking about what the followership is also expecting from the legislators. When they start comparing a legislator in America with a legislator in Nigeria, what they forget is that there’s no basis for comparison. What are the demands of legislators in America? The legislators in America are not expected to pay house rents, school fees, or use their money to sink boreholes. There are several things legislators here do and you don’t have a budget for that. Many legislators do these out of their pockets.”
Then, while supporting the clamour for the slash in allowances, the federal lawmaker opines that followers must also stop making ‘unbearable, unbelievable and unpractical demands.’
“Yes, if you want to slash the allowances for legislators, please go ahead, and slash it. But, you also have to deal with the whole picture and make sure people don’t come to these same legislators and start to make unbearable, unbelievable and unpractical demands. These demands are not made on other legislators in other parts of the world. A legislator in America that earns N100 a month keeps all the N100 to himself but a legislator in Nigeria, that earns N300 a month, is expected to spend N350 out of the N300 on the constituents. And that is why you see today, legislators who are out of office are in penury because all the so-called basic allowances are spent on the constituency. I am all for slashing of allowances, if we can slash the demands as well.”
Do you agree with Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila?