Nigeria is facing extremely tough times. The people are no longer tough enough to trudge. Insecurity is messing up every good thing once on sight. Flying, creeping and walking beings are distressed. Violence is seizing the land. There can be nothing more important than human lives, now as worthless as cockroaches on the sidewalk.

This is the time for statesmen. This is the time for creativity so that we all don’t drown. One major problem is poverty and corruption and then the burning zeal for self determination we ignore to our peril. We may not have answers to all the problems, but we can take some striking steps to create more wealth for the people hoping this may reduce the potential slide into anarchy.

How can we raise funds for jobs and wealth creation with immediate effect? My answer is simple: Let the National Assembly SHRINK so that it will not SINK.  Let us put a stop to Constituency Allowance to safe huge sums to help alleviate poverty and probably tame the raging lions on our streets.

Its time to stop Constituency Allowance

Taken on its face value, Constituency Allowance is to help Senators and House of Rep Members to address socio-economic challenges in their immediate constituencies.  It is also meant to support local development efforts. Let us face it, lawmakers confront a lot of challenges and pressure from voters mostly seeking personal and collective needs. There is justifiable over assumptions on their wealth. The society, therefore, exerts so much pressure on them almost to their breaking point. However, I do not think the solution is Constituency Allowance. This is not a creative axiom.

Let us calculate the implication on Nigerians.

I understand each Senator goes home with some 13m in each month as salary. That makes N156m in one year and N624m in a single term of 4 years for one person. Two terms comes to N1.248b from tax payers’ sweat.  This is more than what the entire civil servants in Bayelsa, Plateau or Bornu States can save in four years. A House of Rep member rakes in N9m per month as salary. It comes to N108m in one year, N432m in a single term of four years and N864m in eight years for one person, almost the entire budget of a state at a point, going to one person for making laws for us.

The  109 Senators take N17, 004,000,000 -Seventeen Billion and four million naira- in just one year. That is enough to build a refinery.  If you take into consideration 108 Senators in four years, you arrive at N68,016,000,000- Sixty Eight Billion and sixteen million naira. If I have that, I will build railways from Lagos to Jos. The House of Rep take N155,520,000 -One Hundred and Fifty Five Billion, Five Hundred and Twenty million naira in four years. Don’t multiply by eight years, so that you don’t cause hypertension.

Now the Constituency Allowance !!!

A Senator is entitled to some N200million Constituency Allowance while House of Rep is entitled to 100m Constituency allowance. It means in each year, Senators collect N21,800,000,000-Twenty One Billion and Eight Hundred Million Naira while House of Rep members collect Constituency Allowance of N36,000,000,000.00-N36billion naira in one stretchn  in just one year. This is crazy, in a country where Professors and medical doctors are not well paid. They ev

Constituency allowances are unnecessary for many reasons. One is the fact that Nigeria is shifting state responsibilities to individuals. Lawmakers are being made to provide water, schools, roads, drainage, security for local people. The danger is that the people will b loyal to individuals than to the state. This is one way to delegitimize the state. It tramples on the status of the state as the protector of the citizens by shifting the obligation of the state to individuals.

It erodes the influence and power of the state as an institution and substitutes with the prowess of the individual. When individuals become custodians of state functions and rights, they often demystify the state and subdue her authority over the people. Instead of being faithful to the state the people are faithful to public servants making such individuals to become laws. Instead of obeying the state and its rules, the citizens tend to pander to the rule of individuals that provide for their needs. The state becomes more fragile, lacking authority and weakened by its influence to enforce her own laws on people that are made to see or feel her impact.

There is also the problem of accountability. The lawmakers are not under any strong obligation to account for the constituency allowances they collect. There is no effective monitoring mechanism. In my own community, there are some 28 communities. My Senator and House of Rep members, by virtue of what they collect, should have at least a project not less than 4 million each in of the 28 communities. That will only cost the two of them 56 million naira which is just half of what the House of Rep in my community collects. In the affected communities, there are no projects to our striking knowledge.  Who is fooling who?

What is to be done? If the National Assembly wants to continue with Constituency Projects, the funds should be given in trust to each of the constituencies that elected the lawmakers on needs and population assessment basis. The second option is to pass on the funds to each local government in the states. The third option is to given the funds to each state to implement projects in partnership with affected communities. I call this the Ekiti State or Dr Kayode Fayemi Model. Between 2010 and 2019, the government of Dr Kayode Fayemi instituted a unique project which involved each community presenting at least three most important projects to be financed by the State Government in partnership with the local communities who would provide the workforce and the contractor in most cases. It turned out that where previous governments had spent some 10million on a project for instance, the community spent only 3million due to community diligence, communal monitoring and protection from sleaze. The state government also introduced a system whereby the Budgets were prepared with community involvement. The State project ceased from being a yearly ritual to becoming a democratic initiative owned by the people from conception to implementation. This is an excellent example of Institutional Building.

In all, the National Assembly has to do something urgent about the Constituency Allowance if Nigeria is to move from stupor, waste, stagnant  

Adewale Adeoye

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