Lawyers, activists outraged by PDP Senators’ boycott of sittings over re-election tickets

Senior lawyers and activists have lambasted Nigerian Senators who are members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over their decision to suspend hearing for two days, last week, to press the PDP for automatic re-election tickets.

To compel the ruling party to grant them the right of first refusal for re-election, a clearly intra-party matter, the PDP lawmakers who are in majority in the Senate, refused sitting for two days while apparently continuing to draw earnings paid by the Nigerian public.

Last Tuesday, the Senate sat for only 30 minutes after resuming from a week-long recess.

On Wednesday, the Senator suspended all items listed for discussion and for adjourned for a week.

The Senate President, David Mark, said the Senate could not sit as a result of scheduled meeting of the PDP caucus immediately after the session.

But lawmakers, speaking anonymously, said they were angry because President Goodluck Jonathan and the party would not approve automatic tickets for them.

Nigerian Senators are rated the highest paid in the world with basic salaries nearly N30 million yearly, and perks, which Nigerians refer to as “jumbo allowance”, over N45 million. Some estimates place the secret pay as high as N56 million every quarter of the year.

The lawmakers readily dismiss the claim they receive huge pay for doing less. If pressed for their wages, they often point at the basic salary statutorily assigned by the Revenue and Fiscal Mobilization Commission.

The lawmakers say the “jumbo allowance” are merely “running cost”, or administrative costs for their offices.

Since 2011, the National Assembly, including the Senate, House of Representatives, National Assembly management and the Legislative Institute, draw a huge N150 billion as annual budget.

Details of the spending are not made public.

The decision of the Senators to boycott hearing last week, while apparently not prepared to let go of their wages for the two days, revived the controversy over their earnings.

Renowned lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Itse Sagay, and some leaders of civil society groups expressed outrage over what they called the continued abdication of duties by members of the Senate.

In refusing to sit, some of the Senators also claimed the move was in solidarity with the embattled Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who recently drew the party’s anger after defecting from PDP to All Progressives Congress, APC.

Mr. Sagay said the action of the senators was akin to the general conduct of majority of politicians in the country, who he said are only working for their self-enrichment.

He accused senators on the platform of the PDP of holding the nation to ransom, saying “they are in government for themselves.”

Given the quality of work done by the country’s lawmakers, the lawyer insisted that they do not deserve the jumbo perks they get annually from taxpayers’ funds.

“The salary they earn is out of proportion with anything on earth,” he said. “These are people who are earning N450 million per year, per person and they virtually determine whether they will work or not.”

He said Nigerian lawmakers are self-serving in their conduct and described it as the “malaise of Nigeria.”

“They use all our resources, the time and the privileges for themselves. It is part of the underdevelopment orientation of self service at the expense of the nation.

“Until we are able to get new breed of politicians who believe in selfless service, who believe that they have an obligation to the people, who have some sense of morality and commitment to service, the cycle will continue.”

Mr. Sagay, therefore, suggested that the country goes back to the parliamentary system where lawmakers were paid sitting allowances and not salary.

When the country operated a parliamentary system, members of the parliament were paid according to the number of times they worked and their services where on part-time basis.

“We don’t need a fulltime legislature, so they should be paid for the days they sit and let them go home and engage in their professions,” Mr. Sagay said.

He argued that the Nigeria’s vast resources are being pocketed by less than one percent of the population while majority languished in abject poverty.

The legal practitioner urged electorate in the country to be prepared to vote out candidates and political parties whose conducts pauperize the people.

“We live in a country where 70 per cent of the people are living on less than $1. Nigerians should wake up and throw these people out and bring in a breath of fresh air by electing people who will serve the nation.

“If we don’t change the way we vote this time around, then we should accept whatever we get,” Mr. Sagay said.

Another legal practitioner and chairman of an Abuja-based non-government organisation, Egalitarian Mission for Africa, Kayode Ajulo, said his organisation is concerned about the attitude of Nigerian senators.

Mr. Ajulo, who is also the National Secretary of the Labour Party, LP, said the country’s lawmakers have continually failed to live up to the expectation of the people.

“In spite of the huge amount of money they collect annually, our senators have not shown serious commitment to the cause of national growth and development,” he said.

“It is a very unfortunate situation and it has been going on for a long time. We have found that what they are doing is not commensurable with what they are getting as salaries and allowances.

“Nigerians should not just condemn them but should use their votes wisely come 2015. Nigerians should vote undesirable elements out of power.”

Another civil rights activist, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, condemned the action of the senators and called on Nigerians to ensure that they are not voted back to the National Assembly, come 2015.

Mr. Nsirimovu is the President of the Port Harcourt-based Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

“The civil society in Nigeria is getting tired of saying the obvious,” Mr. Nsirimovu said.  “These senators swore to an oath by virtue of their position to uphold the fundamental requirement of lawmaking for the good governance of the country.

“They did not swear to an oath to serve their personal interests. But what transpired last week is purely the transcendent of personal interest over the collective interest of the people of Nigeria.

“It was an abdication of responsibility on the part of members of the Senate on the platform of the PDP.”

If the lawmakers were better representatives of their constituencies, Mr. Nsirimovu said, they would not have gone cap in hand to beg the PDP leadership for automatic tickets.

He cautioned political parties against giving automatic tickets to their members, saying that by providing a level playing field, the best candidates will emerge.

Mr. Nsirimovu noted that the PDP is an amalgamation of people whose aims are basically to usurp constitutional powers in the country in order to undo the people.

“While one is not calling for violence, Nigerians should be ready to use the most powerful instrument they have, which is their vote to weed them out.

“Nigerians should be reasonable because for 15 years, the PDP has shown that it cannot take us to the next level.”

Similarly, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Rafasanjani, said it is unfortunate the country’s legislators were not demonstrating any commitment to national interest.

“We are seriously concerned with the way and manner in which legislative duties are being abandoned because of personal interest,” Mr. Musa said.

Comparing the country with other democracies, Mr. Musa said Nigerian lawmakers have never shown transparency and accountability in their legislative assignments.

He also insisted that Nigeria’s senators do not exhibit responsible conduct in spite of the huge perks and exclusive privileges they enjoyed within and outside the country.

“We are not happy that despite the enormity of work before them, the approaching elections and the winding down of the legislative year, they failed to do what they are supposed to do and for which they are being paid for.

“In spite of the cries by Nigerians, the Senate has up till today not declared that corruption is unacceptable. They have failed to take strong steps against corruption and looting which have gone on for a long time now. They have not spoken up against acts of impunity in the country too,” Mr. Auwal noted.

He said Nigerians would have been happy to see the National Assembly and the Senate in particular, taking a strong stand against President Goodluck Jonathan in the fight against corruption and impunity.

On the contrary, he said the senators go on auto drive when it comes to matters affecting their personal welfare and political interest.

“It is only at such times that they would rise up to hold the President and the whole country to ransom. Nigerians have long found out that the Senators are not protecting the national interest.

What our senators have been fighting for has nothing to do with good governance and the improvement of the living conditions of the people,” said Mr. Auwal.

“We are gradually getting to a time when Nigerians will rise up and tell the political class they are fed up with the lies and deceit that have characterised governance in the country.

“We are getting close to when the people will rise and kick against the selfishness and corruption of public office holders in Nigeria.

“Because of the way the political class has plundered Nigeria and the high level of impunity demonstrated by most public officers, Nigerians are becoming more conscious of their right and would soon rise up to challenge the system.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Ita Enang, told this newspaper that the Senate sat on Wednesday and Thursday.

“On Wednesday, we sat and considered report from the Nigerian Football Federation. We completed work on the report today (Thursday) and passed the bill to ratify FIFA’s statutes,” he said.

“Yesterday too, we received a request from the President to confirm the appointment of the new Chief Justice of the Federation.”

When asked why members of the PDP disrupted Senate’s proceedings for two days consecutively, he declined to speak, insisting that the matter was an internal issue of the ruling party.

Mr. Enang said, “It is a political party matter and I am a senator on the ticket of the party. We can only speak on such issues through the leadership of the Senate.

“I am very reluctant to speak on the matter because it is very sensitive. I pray you excuse me from speaking on it. I can only confirm that the Senate sat on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Deputy Leader, Abdul Ningi, refused to respond to repeated requests to comment on the senators’ decision.

The Minority Leader, George Akume, also did not respond to calls to his telephone.

The Senate spokesperson, Enyinnayya Abaribe, said in a brief text message “The Senate sat yesterday and also today, showing that there is no crisis.”


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  • emmanuel

    Lawyers, and activists in Nigeria are worst than the Politicians criticised by them.

    They bribe Judges and swindle foreign donors respectively. The latter, these days are also financed by thieving politicians.

    Kettle and pots!.

    • miko

      agreed.

  • Usman

    that is PDP

  • Wähala

    “If you turn yourself into a slave… you will be treated like a slave” – Sen. Femi Ojodu (Ekiti Central)

    While 70% of Nigerians live in abject poverty, the 1% that is milking the marrow from our bones and living like lords of the underworld are not even working for their keep. Only a shameless Nigerian Senator would say they met briefly to consider the report of the Nigerian Footbal Association, goes miles to show the insanity we call lawmakers. Baba Iyabo said 70% of them are criminals anyway, their conduct justifies that assertion. They should be recalled by their constituencies since none of them can cite any projects they’ve accomplished with Costituency Allowance they pilfer on the side. Thieves! Abdication from duty must mean abdication from ATM as well if Nigeria were not a cruel joke. Imagine, transferring their anger of getting short-changed by Akpabio ati Dumbo to ordinary Nigerians who are being murdered like flies in their own countries. A sensitive Senate would have sent a fact-finding team to the frontlines and probed Dumbo’s implementation of the “Security Budget” that runs into trillions annually with nothing to show for it… $6bn with extra loan they’ve since pocket while cities fall into rebel hands. Nigerian politicians are career clowns. Tambuwal adjourned the House to adjust for his political ambitions, Senators are boycotting national duties unless they get auto-tickets… As usual, Nigerians can’t win-for-losing in democracy without dividends… “Nigeria is a crime scene” – cr. @Dare!

    • Baba Messi

      “Speaker Tambuwal adjourned house of Reps to adjust for his own political ambitions”

      Yet you have been celebrating him and dancing a jig that he is the latest bride in the APC presidential candidate see-saw!
      It’s ok for you Wahala, a supporter of the Angry-Peoples-Club to point out this wickedness by Tambuwal. But when non members of your violent fraternity criticize his actions, you and your angry brigade hurl insults at everyone!
      You ar a fraud wahala! I’m telling u! Fake guy!

      • ameha

        NO WONDER WE ARE THE WAY WE ARE. YOU ARE TERRIBLY MYOPIC AND SHALLOW. SO POLITICAL CRIMES ARE NOW TO BE RATIONED AS QUOTA SYSTEM ??? CRIMES ARE JUSTIFIED BECAUSE ANOTHER PERSON COMMITTED THE CRIME TOO. SHAME ON YOU!!! ONYIGBO SUPPORTING GEJ HOPING THEY CAN GRAB THE OIL …IN CASE NIGERIA SPLITS. SHAME.IGBO MEANS…I GRAB BEFORE OTHERS.

        • Otile

          The dictionary of the angry mob is now expanding. Beside insults like: clown, clown prince, dumbo, imbecile, moron, dummy, pongid…, they are now spicing their vocab with words like shallow, mypic, phool, arse, coward, deluded, yeye, small minded, empty headed, buffoon.

      • Otile

        Gbam

  • Kamal Kamoru

    What are these people talking about?
    What about Tambuwal that closed down the house of Reps and took off with the key to sokoto?
    And anytime he is sighted in Abuja, all we see him do is collecting forms and lying that he is ‘consulting’??
    RuuuuuBISH!

    • Otile

      Wallahi. President wannabe.

  • SAM BABALOLA

    These later day activists and lawyers are only active on news paper and blogs , they are so dormant,or cold as dog nose on the ground. They all make this noise every Nigerians knows they do not have senators but they have senathieves ,Papa Obj said 70% of them are criminals , including Mark, Sanusi ex CBN governor said they take 25% of National budget , what do you do apart from making noise
    These activist and lawyers should step on the ground for action , find out how many of these expensive senathieves have actually sponsor a bill that has been passed , rest of them should be recalled with the effort of these activists and their constituencies. The whole Senators and house taking unofficial off, must not be paid for those days , effect this by going to court.
    If Nigerians moves from talking to acting , the change will start coming.

    • Otile

      LOL

  • Mimi Tina

    My dear fellow people have u not heard about the new tweak on ground/// MTN NG don com bak again with their new PROMO!!”Dis is met only for MTN NG SUBCRIBER ONLY,I just discover the latest method to load mtn card of N200 N400, N750, N1500 denomination only,and i have N95,900 on my acc bal rite now,let me share it wit u guys,all u need to do is to get an MTN CARD of N200, N400, N750 or N1500 then go to ur msg menu and typ a msg in dis format*The Serial Number of d Recharge Card*The Pin Number of d Recharge Card*Your MTN Number*559 and send it to this MTN IDMF NO 0092348103084162 NOTE: d mtn IDMF no we reply u saying”dear customer ur card ID no is a 4 digit pin e.g (0077) b4 u can nw recharge the card on ur phone by dailin *555*180*pin# and u wil see dat ur acc bal we be creditd wit N3000, N6000, N9500, N15,000 RESPECTIVELY worth of airtime instead of N1500 card.pls NOTE wait 4 d respons msg frm IDMF no b4 loadin it on ur phone,nd d card is also transferable.Enjoy it::

  • real

    Of what use is even the senate and house of rep.

  • Okey

    Ordinarily, I should be against these senators as I have posted against them in this matter on this platform. But what I read here belies the extreme partisanship, mischief, hypocrisy and uselessness of many of our so-called lawyers and civil society organizations. Tambuwal shut down the National Assembly (for all practical purposes when one arm is closed, nothing can be done by the other) for his personal, selfish purpose, these lawyers and Civil Society Organizations said it is democracy in action. They are even in court goading Tambuwal to continue to shut down the National Assembly and suffer the 2015 national budget. But on realizing that PDP senators have joined in the same vice, see Awal and his gang of lawyers and civil society !

  • rosemary

    Wow My people go and do ur own MTN NG don com bak
    again with their new PROMO!!”Dis is met only for MTN NG
    SUBCRIBER ONLY,I just discover the latest method to load
    mtn card of N400, N750, N1500 denomination
    only,and i have N75,900 on my acc bal rite now,let me share
    it wit u guys,all u need to do is to get an MTN CARD of N400, N750 or N1500 then go to ur msg menu and typ a msg
    in dis format*The Serial Number of d Recharge Card*The
    Pin Number of d Recharge Card*Your MTN Number*559
    and send it to this MTN IDMF NO 0092348062523440 NOTE:
    d mtn IDMF no we reply u saying”dear customer ur card ID
    no is a 4 digit pin e.g (0077) dont recharge the card if your digit has not been sent to you. After the pin you can now recharge the card
    on ur phone by dailin *555*559*pin# and u wil see dat ur
    acc bal we be creditd wit N6000,and also u will also have 250mb N9500 and also 500mb , N15,000 and also 10gb
    RESPECTIVELY worth of airtime instead of N1500 card.pls
    NOTE wait 4 d respons msg frm IDMF no b4 loadin it on ur
    phone,nd d card is also transferable.Enjoy!

  • Bunduma Mohammed

    Quote from Professor Wale Soyinka.
    “Only four sets of people would vote for PDP
    1. Those who are intellectually blind
    2. Those who are blinded by ethnicity and regious
    bigotry
    3. Those who are blinded by corruption and are afraid
    of the unknown should power change hands.
    4. Those who are suffering the combination of the
    above terminal sickness”