At the Unity Fountain Abuja, location of the Bring Back Our Girls sit outs, disquieted Nigerians commenced public protests against the National Assembly jumbo budget of N150 billion, almost $1 billion dollars per annum.
Nigerian assemblymen take home a total package of almost $ 2 million, N400 million each. This is the highest remuneration in the world. Compared, US Senators take home just $174,000; a lot less for serious work they actually engage in. In 2012, Senegal got rid of its Senate to “save money.”
Lack of Transparency
Nigeria’s assembly not only covets billions of naira but also operates a closed budget, disallowing public scrutiny ad transparency. This has sparked citizen protests calling for an “#OpenNASS.”
Speaking through a bullhorn to passerby including a former Senator who lost to Governor Tambuwal in Sokoto and several government cars including some of the Presidency, Dr. Peregrino Brimah of ENDS, Every Nigerian Do Something, rebuked the legislators of being selfish and destructively greedy. He invited Nigerians to reprimand them and continue the demonstrations till the ‘change’ is total.
While speaking with the NTA and AIT television stations Dr. Brimah explained that the representatives cannot effectively represent their constituents if they receive such stupendous salaries and benefits that separates them in thought and lifestyle from the people they are meant to represent. “We are trying to help them do their job better… to be better representatives,” he said. “We will not stop till we reduce their earnings to no more than 10% of what it is now. This more reasonable remuneration will help them to be true representatives.”
The Bring Back Our Girls sit out was visited by the commissioner for Humanitarian affairs of the European Union, ahead of World Refugee Day, while the protests were ongoing. Chaired By ex-minister Oby Ezekwesisli, the group discussed the need to address the National Assembly’s exorbitant wages, stressing that corruption and the indulgence of those in whose hands our welfare is entrusted made it impossible to properly tackle pressing issues bedevilling the nation including the insurgency that has led to hundreds of abducted Nigerians, refugees and the immense suffering.
ENDS and other groups and citizens promised to reconvene for protests Tuesday morning at the National Assembly when they reconvene. Various local and international media present including the BBC promised to cover the upcoming protests.