|May 5, 2014|
Dr. Bedford N. Umez
Professor of Government, Lee College
Box 818, Baytown, Texas 77522 USA
Phone: 832-731-7061 or 281-425-6368
TO: Goodluck Jonathan [GCFR], President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Aso Rock Villa, Asokoro District, Abuja
CC: David Mark [GCON], Senate President, National Assembly Complex Three Arms Zone P.M.B 141 Abuja
CC: Aminu Tambuwal [CFR], Speaker, House of Reps., National Assembly Complex, P.M.B 141 Abuja
CC: All the 36 Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
CC: Aloma Maryam Mukhtar, GCON, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
CC: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria
CC: Abdulwahed Omar, President, Nigerian Labor Congress, NLC
CC: Barack Obama, President, United States, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500
CC: Joseph Biden, Vice President/US Senate President, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500
CC: Harry Reid, Majority Leader, the US Senate, 522 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
CC: John Boehner, Speaker, the US House of Reps., 1011 Longworth H.O.B., Washington, DC 20515
CC: International Monetary Fund (IMF), 720 19th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20431
On the 15th of March, 2014, “twenty-three Nigerian job seekers who left their homes to sit for the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment examination did not return home alive. They were trampled to death” (Leadership.ng). Thousands fainted from stampede and exhaustion, as 60,000 of them scrambled for an examination that will only create about 4,000 jobs – nationwide.
Your Excellency, this tragedy is a clear testimony of the deplorable economic condition in Nigeria. So many university graduates in Nigeria have been jobless for years. Nigeria is in a deep economic depression with a frightening unemployment rate, despite its abundance in resources.
Mr. President, no nation can claim to care for its citizens until it starts addressing its core problems. Nigeria, as Your Excellency knows, has so many serious problems and challenges – mostly, man-made – but none is more disheartening than the gross inequity in wealth distribution, exemplified by the inconceivable pay (salary plus allowances) of Nigerian legislators. [See Table 1, Vanguard newspaper report, August 25, 2013, and the enclosed six reports on jumbo pay of Nigerian legislators.] Your Excellency, such pay scale clearly shocks conscience. Here is how Professor Sola Adeyeye, a former member of Nigerian House of Representatives, now a sitting Senator and the Vice-Chairman of Education Committee, expressed the outlandish, oversized pay of Nigerian legislators in an interview:
|“Twice I made a statement that was carried by some newspapers to the effect that if Nigerians know how much we in the National Assembly were making, they would come and stone all of us. I would park my car in front of the National Assembly and I would load the trunk with stones so that there would be enough stones to stone everybody, including myself. Unfortunately, as things are in Nigeria, nobody thought my revelation was worthy of being followed up, and things have since gone from bad to worse.” - Prof. Sola Adeyeye [http://saharareporters.com/interview/how-national-assembly-rob-nigerians-prof-sola-adeyeye]|
Mr. President, the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria is totally unjustifiable, inexcusable, and uncalled for. Millions of workers in Nigeria are grossly underpaid. An average civil servant in Nigeria barely earns $120 (or N20,000) a month. Indeed, to know that an average civil servant in Nigeria will never earn the monthly pay of a Nigerian Senator (N23.4 million) in his or her life time is an outrage - it is wrong, cruel, and unconscionable. Put differently, it will take at least 97 years for an average Nigerian civil servant to earn what a Nigerian Senator makes in a month. Alternatively, consider, Mr. President, how many jobs the annual pay of Nigerian legislators can create each year. In fact, an annual pay of a Nigerian senator (N280.5 million) will employ, each year, 1,169 Nigerian civil servants, earning N20,000 per month. Similarly, an annual pay (N239.3 million) of a Nigerian member of the House of Representatives will employ 997 Nigerian civil servants (earning N20,000 per month). All told, Nigerian legislators (109 Senators plus 360 House of Representatives) are earning what would employ, each year, about half a million Nigerian civil servants, earning N20,000 per month. Mr. President, this is unacceptable.
Despite the outraged conscience of our nation; despite the alarming unemployment rate in our country; despite nonpayment of pensions to civil servant retirees; despite worldwide condemnation over this bogus pay, no serious effort has been made to address it. We now ask you, Mr. President, to please take this issue to legislators without hesitation: Do it now!
Mr. President, nature, in its prodigal spirit, bestowed upon Nigeria a “tree” that practically “prints” money – and that tree is our crude oil. This is a blessing for Nigeria, and other OPEC nations (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, among others). In addition, Nigeria receives millions of dollars each year in financial aid from many countries, particularly the United States of America. Unfortunately, the income flow from this crude oil and other natural resources, and the substantial foreign aid is not only being squandered, mismanaged and misappropriated, the left-over is now being devoured through bogus pay to our legislators. This is wrong – deadly wrong!
Mr. President, here are the ultimate questions: What could have been the justification for this outlandish pay of our legislators in the face of massive, chronic unemployment in Nigeria? What could have been the justification for the unconscionable pay of our legislators in the face of worn-out, run-down, neglected infrastructure in our country? Mr. President, there is no justification! Nigeria, an OPEC country, still lacks basic infrastructure readily available in other OPEC countries: Nigerian hospitals have been in utter decay as most of our leaders travel abroad for medical checkup and treatment; Nigerian schools have been totally abandoned as most of our leaders send their children to universities in foreign countries; so many towns in Nigeria do not have tarred roads, electricity, and clean water. Basic needs, namely, food, shelter and clothing, are still out of reach for an average Nigerian – a fact that goes without saying. Consequently, average life expectancy in Nigeria today is placed at 52 years compared to 75 years in Saudi Arabia, for instance (World Bank, CIA). So, Mr. President, how can our legislators budget and allocate for themselves – yes, for themselves – such outlandish pay? Even in the face of good governance, as in industrialized countries; even in the face of great abundance, as in industrialized societies, such outrageous pay has no justification whatsoever.
Your Excellency, notice that Nigerian Constitution, for all intents and purposes, was written "for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country." All Nigerian legislators swore an oath before God and man to uphold, and defend our Constitution. They must act NOW in complete obedience to that oath by carrying out the responsibilities and mandates of our constitution – “promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country.”
Accordingly, we, fellow Nigerians, ask your administration to please take this bogus pay to the legislators themselves, and ask them to please slash their pay (salary and allowances) in line with the economic depression in Nigeria, and apply the excess funds to meaningful avenues and infrastructure that will create good-paying, meaningful jobs for Nigerians. It is right in the eyes of man; it is right in the eyes of God.
Mr. President, we would like to share with you one disturbing lesson learned during the three-week period of collecting signatures for this petition: So many Nigerians are simply too afraid to ask
their democratic government to serve them better. Consider, for instance, this email:
"You are therefore authorized to add my name or rather sign the petition for me.
Hope it doesn’t affect me negatively in Nigeria because here in Nigeria you don’t talk
when anything is wrong or you are dealt with.” – T.C.
This should not be the case in any democracy. Indeed, Nigeria is not run by a military junta.
We thank you for listening, and look forward for an announcement of the NEW pay of Nigerian legislators.
May God bless Nigeria and be with you in your efforts to improve the lives of our people.
[Note: Hard copies of the publications below were enclosed in the Petition submitted)
A Comparison of Lawmakers' Pay. Retrieved April 24, 2014,
Report on Legislators' Jumbo Pay Sparks Anger - Nigerian Lawmakers highest Paid Globally - The Economist. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://www.punchng.com/news/report-on-legislators-jumbo-pay-sparks-anger or [PDF saved copy: http://www.umez.com/Reports-Kona-Print/Report-on-Legislators-Jumbo-Pay-Sparks-Anger.pdf ]
Nigerian Lawmakers are the Highest Paid in the World. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/08/nigerian-lawmakers-are-the-highest-paid-in-the-world or [PDF saved copy: http://www.umez.com/Reports-Kona-Print/Nigerian-Lawmakers-are-the-Highest-Paid-in-the-World.pdf ]
Legislators Jumbo Pay: Milking the Poor Dry. Retrieved April 24, 2014,
Nigeria's Expensive National Assemly. Retrieved April 24, 2014,
How the National Assembly Rob Nigerians-Prof. Sola Adeyeye. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://saharareporters.com/interview/how-national-assembly-rob-nigerians-prof-sola-adeyeye or
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