The late Dr Oyewole Jegede, an icon of education, pioneer Principal of African Church Comprehensive High School Ikere-Ekiti and the son of Madam Alege of blessed memory once declared that Nigeria was in the state of Erewon. The state of Erewon according to him is in a nation where a mad man is taken to prison while the armed robber is comfortably accommodated in a five star hotel. If Jegede was alive now, he will be seen by the discerning mind as a visionary of some sort. Indeed, Nigeria is today a nation where Professors are being ruled by imbeciles and morons.
Those who work for thirty days are busy negotiating for a minimum monthly wage of N30000 while some state officials who work for less than 20 days a month take home N20 million. It is a clear case of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop according to our local parlance. How any sane and fair mind can judge this criminally wide disparity between the elected state officials who may just spend four years in office and those who toil for 35 years without even any hope of being paid pension and gratuity entitlements is still incomprehensible. One cannot indeed justify the humongous pay of the people’s representatives in a nation that is now widely known as the poverty capital of the world.
It is a well known fact that the monthly allowance of Nigerian Senators is more than those of their counterparts in USA and Canada where our youths(the strength of any population) are daily flocking to for better lives. Many desperate ones have died in the desert while trying to access Europe through Libya. Many more were languishing in detention and slave camps until they were recently saved and brought back home by the Federal govt. This loss of faith of our youth in the nation and their constant search for succour elsewhere reflected in the ranking of Nigerians in August 2010 by the International Migrant Organization IMO as the fourth highest asylum seekers in the world coming after Sudan, Somalia and China. It is paradoxical that we even had more asylum seekers than Syria that has been held down by civil war for many years now.
What then is the way forward for Nigeria to meet the common good so that her citizens can feel at home and not perpetually seeking salvation in other lands. While it is good to continually fight corruption until it’s deleterious effects on the national well being are drastically reduced, we need to look into the cost of our governance structures and systems. Many literate Nigerians have acknowledged that our cost of governance is too high and clearly not in tune with our national earning capacity and productivity. Aside, less than three percent of the population are taking from the national commonwealth more than seventy percent of what is set aside for the whole national workforce. There should be at least a sixty percent reduction in the emoluments of all political office holders especially those that are far above the salaries of career civil servants and that bear no similarity with other developing countries of the world. All political parties should have a consensus on this issue to show their love and concern for the people’s welfare and thereby influence positive legislation towards the attainment of the objective. While felicitating with the NLC, TUC, ULC and Nigerians on this workers day, I want them all to join hands with other patriotic citizens to begin the process of constitutional amendment to make all legislative positions part-time with payment of only sitting allowances that are subject to review based on prevail economic situations and national earning capacity.
These are the fundamental changes our nation urgently needs today.
God bless Nigerian Workers.