By Lawal Mohammed Masa
In a recent interview, House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, claimed that his quarrel with the Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, is based on the governor’s failure to deliver the dividends of democracy! Dogara is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to insult our intelligence. How can a lawmaker callously collecting N27 million as salary open his mouth to preach about the so-called dividends of democracy?
Our lawmakers are the most rapacious in the world, paying themselves salaries and allowances far above legitimate labour and productivity. Where is the so-called dividends of democracy from Dogara in a country where a so-called lawmaker collects N27 million as salary while millions of his fellow citizens are ravaged by poverty? Who are the people buying the choicest landed property and state of the art cars and Jeeps in Abuja? It is the so-called lawmakers like Dogara who are fleecing the people while pretending to serve them.
Instead of maintaining a low profile because of the disgrace people like him have brought to the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, Speaker Dogara had the audacity to accuse Governor Mohammed Abubakar of not delivering the so-called dividends of democracy. The insane greed of politicians like Dogara is one of the greatest obstacles to President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade.
Instead of selfless service to Nigerians, Dogara’s dividends of democracy are going to his private pocket. Despite the obscene salaries and allowances they are paying themselves, politicians like Dogara are also robbing the voters through budget padding and the so-called constituency projects.
Considering his role in the budget padding scandal, Speaker Dogara should have concentrated his efforts on how to rebuild his reputation after the damaging revelations made against him by Hon. Abdulmuminin Jibrin. Instead, he is busy diverting our attention by attacking Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State.
A few days ago, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State challenged Speaker Dogara to subject their budgets, salaries and allowances to public scrutiny.
El-Rufai publicly told Nigerians that he collects N4.4 billion annually as security vote. Why is Speaker Dogara yet to respond to this challenge? How can a man collecting N27 million salary when poverty is ravaging the ordinary voters claim that he is serving the people? Can there be democracy without transparency? If you are afraid to disclose your salaries, then it means you don’t deserve what you are collecting. It also means you are cheating the taxpayers.
As far as ordinary Nigerians are concerned, elected politicians like Dogara jumped on the change train for financial profits, and not because they believed in President Buhari’s vision of selfless service.
Their greed is a reflection of their insensitivity to the hardships of ordinary Nigerians. Dogara should bury his head in shame. With proper democracy education, people like Dogara would have become irrelevant.
The 2017 budget is yet to be passed, and if the process is not accelerated, how would President Buhari implement his campaign promises? This is the issue one would have expected Dogara to talk about. Instead he was playing to the gallery by attacking Governor Mohammed Abubakar.
What does Dogara mean by dividends of democracy? If dividends of democracy means people’s welfare, then Governor Mohammed Abubakar deserves praise, and not condemnation from Dogara. Since he was sworn into office, Governor Abubakar has cleared backlog of unpaid salaries, and he has continued to meet his salary obligations regularly. Besides, in order to lead by example, Governor Abubakar and his Deputy have cut their salaries by 50 percent to reflect the economic reality in the country. If Dogara cannot give him credit for this, let him not attack him unfairly on the pages of newspapers.
What Dogara also failed to acknowledge is the efforts of Governor Abubakar to boost education and other critical areas of social service. For devoting 20 percent of the 2016 budget to education, does Governor Abubakar deserve credit or condemnation?
Governor Abubakar also approved the revalidation of appointment and payment of 7 months’ salary arreas of 430 newly recruited teachers to the tune of over N93 million. Besides N270 million was approved for the payment of student, and tuition allowance. Another N120 million and N330 million was approved to settle WAEC, NABTEB and NBIS for examination and registration fees for Bauchi State indigenes.
Despite these positive efforts, speaker Dogara is interested in something to criticize than something to appreciate. Negatively is toxic to our democratic development. As the famous Irish poet Oscar Wilde said, “The cynic knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.” The people of Bauchi State are the best Judge of Governor Abubakar’s performance. Speaker Dogara cannot sit in Judgment over the performance of Governor Abubakar because the Governor is answerable to the Bauch State voters.
Masa, a political analyst and good governance advocate, wrote from No. 104, Hadejia Road Kano