Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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Uduak Ubak’s Blog: The Nigerian Lawmakers and Their Wardrobe Allowance

Wardrobe Allowance nigeria-national-assembly

Recently trending in Nigeria was the news and reaction to the nine billion naira (US$45 million) wardrobe allowance for the members of the Nigerian Legislature at the Federal level – The Senate and House of Representatives (National Assembly)

Most of the reactions from the citizens have been against it. With all the news about our economy struggling, some states not paying their workers with some even owing as much as eleven months salaries, indeed there is God o!

It makes one wonder how the people in this situation have been surviving and what the defaulting State Governments have been doing.

Yet in the same vein, at the House, an individual will go home with as much as 21.5 million naira (US$107,500) just for wardrobe allowance, while a civil servant earning a minimum wage as low as 18 thousand naira (US$90) has not been paid for eleven months. Please note that the arguments have not been about their entitlement to the allowance but the amount involved.

In the midst of all of the anger and frustration, one of the senators did something quite remarkable; he donated his own allowance to pay salaries in a state that he’s not from. This move not only reminds me of the power of one, where one person can make a difference but also the fact that someone is listening. This is good to know.

In Africa, we’ve been notorious of having leadership that don’t listen to the people, even when it is a democratic government – “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. What we have most times is the dictatorship kind of governance, where the people in authority decides on what they want to do and impose their decisions on the people, without listening to them.

National Assembly Building
Nigerian National Assembly Building

I think most times, the people in authority either don’t know their duties or have forgotten what it is about. In our Legislature for example, one of their duties amongst others is to protect the interest of the people they are representing.

So when the people protest, the best thing to do would be to listen, offer up explanation where necessary but listen.  So having this senator take that initiative is like a ‘breath of fresh air’. There is someone who really is there to listen, who has the interest of the people at heart even though they are not the people he is directly representing but they are all Nigerians nevertheless.

Beyond the wardrobe money saga, we hope that we’ll have a new set of leadership that is out to lead the people democratically. Let’s have a Nigeria where her citizens actually do matter.

God bless Nigeria!

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