ATTN: National Assembly Members.

I relate with several proprietors in private business. I am not aware of anyone who has increased salary in the past two years. I retired from the public sector. I am not aware of a recent salary review other than the national minimum wage. Yet prices of commodities have doubled in two years. One frozen chicken in US has remained the same price probably for more than a decade.

Take ‘pure water’ in sachets in Nigeria. By 2020 ex-factory price was N80 while distributors sold them for N100 for a bag containing 20 sachets. Now factory price is N200 and N220 in outlets. The retail price of one tablet of Premier soap went for N40 by 2020. Today it is N80. Food? No news. Folks eat less and drink more water to occupy space.  People keep building but despite availability of Dangote cement everywhere, price per bag went up from N2,500 to N5,000 today. It makes us ask whether the price increases will ever end and if not, what the tolerance limit of citizens is. Quality of life has dipped but who cares? Not even the National Bureau of Statistics.

The National Assembly members will likely say they don’t run the national economy. Sirs and Madams, legislators make laws for the good governance of a nation, and they have oversight functions. By simple deduction if a country is not well governed can people not say the laws are not appropriate and there is no oversight function going on? In the past two years let someone indicate how many times even one Minister has appeared before one or the two arms of the National Assembly to answer questions. It happens almost every week in the US and we operate the American Presidential system. If Ministers and Executive Heads of MDAs are aware they will be on the hot seat with television cameras on them they will sit up. But assembly persons sleep or stroll in once in a while mainly during the annual ritual of budget defence. Buhari takes the drubbing while legislators take the jumbo pay plus extras.

Let’s try basic arithmetic. Nigerians have heard of monthly salary of N27 million and N38 million for Representatives and Senators respectively. No one has made any attempt to accept or deny it. Members just keep quiet. Let’s take an average of N30 million per month per person. So, if the national minimum wage –  grudgingly approved  – stands at N30,000 a month, it means the lowest paid public servant earns 0.1% (not 1% or 10%) of the salary of a national legislator! Private sector? A different story because some first degree holders in private schools consider themselves  lucky to earn N15, 000 per month excluding holidays. This means .05% of what National Assembly members earn.

So how can legislators appreciate daily price increases? But they should. The National Assembly should have an independent research department to generate information for the members as primary inputs into the legislative process. Of course, even the provision for staff still ends in their pockets just as Constituency allocations released in millions. Do people put currency in a pot, add Maggi cube, salt, and pepper, boil, and chew? What do people do with so much money?

Or can they work hand in hand with the Price Intelligence Unit of the Federal Government? The Unit should supply actual not politicised information in the hope that members would use it.

For now, this is to inform men that when their wives request for increase in housekeeping allowance they should listen.  I don’t know where the money will come from because annual increment is usually very small. Of course, which micro to medium enterprise offers annual increment in salary? And pensioners? Fixed income is decreed or legislated for life so let us forget them.

National Assembly members, arise o compatriots. Save the souls of your sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. Elections don’t matter so 2023 does not matter. But God Almighty matters.

I rest my case.

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