Unrelenting critic of the Nigerian Senate, Professor Itse Sagay, has again taken aim at senators over their sundry allowances. Although the former law teacher, who is chairman, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), didn’t specifically mention any senator’s name, his sweeping attack evidently didn’t spare any including Senate President Bukola Saraki.
“Our current ruling class, particularly the senators has no value, no honour, no vision, no integrity, no compassion for the sufferings of fellow Nigerians,” Sagay said.
“The attachment of ‘distinguished’ to their names is a horrible bastardisation and gross abuse of that term. Now, I reject it with contempt when anyone addresses me with that unfortunate term.”
“They have no mercy, they have no conscience; they simply want to behave like locust just to finish everything within their environment for themselves. That’s totally unacceptable and I’m not going to relent on this thing (criticism).
“Look at the allowance they take, forget the amount. Why would a whole Senator collect money for his wardrobe? Is he naked? Does a labourer, who is taking just N18,000 a month, get it? He’s the one who needs the money for wardrobe allowance.
“But these opulent, rich, super-rich people are still collecting from you and me to clothe themselves; they’re collecting money from you and me to buy newspapers; they said they’re suffering hardship by working inside chambers that are fully air-conditioned with luxurious cushions, with people serving them left, right and centre, with food and drinks available.
Moreover, Sagay said government “could distribute the loot that constitutes these allowances among poor Nigerians.
“If you ask them what is their income they will tell you they’re earning a salary which is taxable, which is very little – about one to two million (Naira) a month.
“They will never talk about those allowances which bring their income into tens of millions. We haven’t come near what senators and House of Representatives people are really taking”.
“We are talking about allowances; there are many other secret things that they are taking that have not been exposed. If you go to that gentle man (Abdulmumin Jibrin) who was suspended from the House of Representatives last year, he has a huge story to tell of the billions that nobody knows about that they’re collecting. So there will be no rest until there is justice.”
He also expressed support for restructuring, saying “it is inconceivable for any state to grow with this type of structure that puts states on welfare benefits”.
“It is a known fact that some governors spend more time in Abuja than in their respective states and at the end of every month, the 36 honourable commissioners of all the states of the federation will assemble in a classroom at Abuja presided over by the federal minister of finance to share money in the Federation Account based on a formula no one really understands,” he said.
“This money comes from three major sources, oil money from Niger Delta, duty collection and VAT from Lagos state. After sharing, the commissioners will head back to their respective governors for allocation sharing based on what they consider priorities and wait for the next monthly allocation.”
Arguing that most of the problems in the north were self-inflicted, Sagay accused the leaders of the region of suppressing their people.
He said despite the fact that a greater part of the funds being shared in the federal capital territory (FCT) goes to the north, the region has been lagging behind in terms of development.
“All the local government areas receive federal allocation and with 419 LGAs in northern part as against 355 in southern part and 19 northern states as against 17 southern states, the bulk of national fund goes to the north. So why is there more poverty in the north than South?” he asked.