Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), a development focused and democracy inclined Non-governmental organization has yesterday criticized what it calls “the unprecedented high wage bill of legislators” in Nigeria and demanded that relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution be amended to make the work of legislators at all levels as part time Jobs.
Besides, the human rights body charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and allied offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the claim that senators were all paid N500 Million each in the last two years as allowances irrespective of their levels of productivity by way of sponsorship of bills to improve the living conditions of Nigerians.
HURIWA in a statement by its national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko stated that it viewed the allegations that legislators collected allowances for jobs not done as a very disturbing economic crime which must be investigated, perpetrators named, shamed and prosecuted even as those legislators who have collected the huge allowances of N500 million each with no bills sponsored by them in the last two years be compelled to return same to the national treasury.
HURIWA also condemned the low level of productivity in the Federal House of Representatives and demanded that the members of the lower chamber should end their frosty relationship with the senate so as to amend some aspects of the 1999 Constitution that would guarantee national prosperity, greater democracy, respect for the human rights of citizens and promotion of transparent electoral process. The Rights Group warned that the nation’s future is imperiled if comprehensive workable constitutional frameworks are not introduced in no distant time to guarantee equity and to bridge the widening chasm between the few Nigerians that are obscenely rich and the many that are extremely impoverished.
HURIWA stated: “we are indeed disappointed and feel very sorry for corporate Nigeria that after spending two years and earning N500 Million each, a dominant percentage of senators and House of Representatives’ members have not added value to the law making process in Nigeria even by the admission of a midterm report published by the National Assembly.”
The Rights group lamented that the legislators at all levels in the country are busy distributing huge financial resources to themselves from the national treasury, even as the country has consistently remained a nation with one of the worst social indicators in the world.
Recalling with deep shock and trepidation that one in five children die before the age of five in Nigeria, over twelve million children of school age are not in school and there are nearly two million orphans of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), HURIWA further lamented that more than fifty four point seventy nine percent (54.79%) of the population that is 75 million people live below the extreme poverty line in a country where international researchers believe life expectancy is forty seven (47) years.
HURIWA therefore endorsed the clamour by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for the introduction by employers of labour in the public and private sectors, of living wages even as it stated that it is morally reprehensible that at a time when most Nigerian children roam the streets begging for alms to survive, those who claimed to hold the peoples’ mandates as legislators are engaged in the illegal bonanza of allocating mind boggling and scandalous allowances to themselves with little or nothing to show for such obscene and unjustifiable wage bills.