Ekweremadu condemns governors’ ‘security votes’; demands N50,000 minimum wage

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu

The reward system that pegs minimum wage at N18, 000 for civil servants, while state governors rake in “as much as N2 billion” as bogus security vote is antithetical to Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has said.

Mr. Ekweremadu spoke in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, Friday evening, where he delivered the 4th National Public Service Lecture of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, on the
theme: “Federalism and The Legal Framework for Combating Corruption in Nigeria.”

The excerpt of Mr. Ekweremadu’s lecture was made available to PREMIUM TIMES by his spokesperson, Uche Anichukwu, on Saturday.

Mr. Ekweremadu decried “a situation where the minimum wage is pegged at N18,000, while some State governors could pocket as much as N2 billion under the cover of Security Vote.”

“When a man who earns N18, 000 cannot buy a bag of rice, how then can such a person take care of his family? Does it make sense to him if you tell him not to find alternative means of catering to the needs of his family?

“Is it not also possible to abolish the Security Vote and replace it with Contingency Vote so it can be appropriated and accounted for,” queried Mr. Ekweremadu.

While calling for abolition security vote, the lawmaker proposed N50, 000 minimum wage nationwide.

Some states have not still implemented the N18, 000 minimum wage policy, introduced by Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Mr. Ekweremadu did not comment on the huge earnings lawmakers like him receive annually, a subject often criticised by Nigerians.

Speaking further, the Deputy Senate President, made case for decentralization of the anti-corruption fight to reflect the essence of Nigeria’s federalism.

Mr. Ekweremadu said, “I wish to make the following suggestions: Decentralization of federal anti-corruption agencies, establishment of State anti-corruption agencies, domestication of anti-graft laws, enthronement of fiscal federalism, decentralised policing, establishment of State orientation agencies, State social intervention/security schemes, State prisons, true economic reforms and public participation in the anti-corruption war.

“Sadly, only Kano state currently has a state agency to fight corruption- the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission. This should be emulated, and urgently too, if we must make a headway in the war against graft.

“Similarly, a Code of Conduct Bureau should be established in the states with a Code of Conduct Tribunal to handle cases of civil servants in the states and local government councils. Besides setting up such agencies, there is also the need for the states to domesticate auxiliary federal laws such as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), Fiscal Responsibility Act, among others, to help curb corruption. Rivers, Oyo, Anambra, Enugu, Ekiti, Lagos, and Ondo are the only States that have so far adopted the ACJA.”

According to the Senator, a situation where the two anti-corruption agencies in the country, Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, do not have presence in the entire country, makes the fight against corruption
ineffective.

He noted, for instance, that the ICPC has just six zonal offices and nine state offices, in addition to its headquarters in Abuja, while the EFCC had offices in only eight states, apart from its headquarters in Abuja.

“These do not scratch the surface, as they are grossly inadequate for a vast area like Nigeria and leave the agencies highly overstretched.”

He added that, “Entrenching fiscal federalism will replace the current ‘feeding bottle’ arrangement where the centre holds tightly to the purse string and feeds the components, with a better arrangement that is predicated on self-reliance, hard work, enterprise, resourcefulness, ingenuity, taxation, transparency, and accountability.

“In the various kindred/family meetings, the illiterate farmer or palm wine tapper becomes literate when it comes to how the fines and levies he contributed were spent because it is the product of his sweat, not a windfall from anywhere”.

Listing the various mineral resources in the 36 States of the country, Mr. Ekweremadu noted that “The good thing is that every State of the federation is sufficiently endowed to survive from its own resources and sweat.”


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