BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON
Have we paid our legislators and Senators their salaries?
If two friends ask you to judge a dispute, don't accept, because you will lose one friend; on the other hand, if two strangers come with the same request, accept because you will gain one friend. --Saint Augustine
I would start my admonition this week by telling us a Yoruba folklore tale about the Tortoise and Boa snake.
Ijapa the tortoise went on a long walk. He walked very far and got very tired. Ijapa was very hungry too.
Ijapa came to the village where Ojola, the boa snake, lived. Ijapa thought, "I am so hungry, I will stop here. Ojola will surely give me food to eat."
Ijapa went to Ojola's house and Ojola welcomed him. They sat in the cool house and talked. Ijapa smelled food cooking in the other part of the house. Ojola said, "Come, let us get ready to eat together."
Ijapa went outside to prepare for the meal. When he came back, the food was placed in the center of the house and Ijapa smelled the aroma. But the tortoise could not reach the food. The snake was coiled all around it. Ijapa got more and more hungry.
Ojola the snake said, "Come sit with me and eat."
Ijapa said, "I would be very happy to sit and eat. But Ojola, why are you surrounding the meal?"
Ojola replied, "This is the way of the snakes. When we eat, we sit around the food like this." Ojola ate and ate of the food, but Ijapa could not get it at all. Ojola finished eating at last. He said to Ijapa, "How good it is to eat with a friend."
Ijapa was even hungrier after the meal than when he came to Ojola's house. He felt much in his heart about what happened.
Ijapa decided to invite Ojola to his house for a meal on a feast day. Ijapa's wife prepared all the foods and Ijapa went out to weave a long tail for himself out of grass. He stuck it on with tree gum.
Ojola arrived to share the feast. The tortoise welcomed him and said, "You have come a long way and you are hungry." Ojola went to wash at a spring and when he returned to Ijapa's house, he saw Ijapa was already eating. Ijapa had coiled his long grass tail all around the food. Ojola could not get near enough to eat. Ijapa heartily ate the food.
Around and around Ojola went. He could not get to the food. "Ijapa," the snake said, "how is it that you used to be so short and now you are so very long?"
"One person learns from another," Ijapa said.
With the above story in my mind, let me take us on a little insightful inquisition…
In Plateau State, one of the first activities of the State governor was to travel to Brazil—reason: to rest. Before that a group of political elites went to Obudu on a cruise, anyway before you loose my drift—The government before it, did same.
While that was going on, my friend El-Rufai in Kaduna was getting accolades for slashing his salary by half, something the President has since done too.
Meanwhile by June, the National Assembly was inaugurated…amidst all the drama, they have remained closed till date, not because they need to get back to their constituencies, or to get ready for legislative business; on the contrary they have been on break because they could not agree on how they share our cake.
469 of them: split into two chambers, from two major parties, the PDP and the APC have simply been awol, because Godfather Tinubu lost out, and the party supremacy and all such jargon should be followed.
While they have been away, the nation or even their senatorial zones have not collapsed.
A sizeable number of them have acquired new wives, increased the number of women in their convent/harem, more concubines, girlfriends and mistresses have been amassed.
They are not alone in this Frankenstein folly, governors too and other political ‘servants’ are not left alone.
Many of them, simply collecting dozens of aides, ranging from 30-45, be them senior special assistants/special assistants/advisers (both senior and junior)/countless aides and yes consultants on various subject matters.
These Nigerians are just gallivanting, on wedding, naming and graduating, birthday, and death-day ceremonies, they attend meetings, left right and center, and flex in caucus meetings of how to remove Saraki, or how to deceive Buhari and make money.
They are all working hard, an average of 4 hours everyday, 15 days a month and 9 months a year in the office. Indeed they are working so HARD, while hardly WORKING.
They are screaming how they have not received bailout, they are shouting hoarse how the money is a loan and they will pay
Our Senators and Representatives amongst them are telling us how difficult the art of making laws are, and you sure would agree, contending with the opposition, with political enemies from different camps, and sure spending all that billions that make them one of the most expensive Parliament must be one hell of a job.
While all these happens in the political space, the likes of Aregbesola explains why he cannot pay salaries. We the masses keep arguing and debating on how much they earn for all the hard work?
These set of Nigerians with many cars, without kids in public schools, and none with less than N10M in his|her personal account fools the larger society.
Despite the best of intentions, it would be a herculean task, to search for a political office holder today in assets and cash, that is not at least a millionaire.
These dudes, like the Tortoise and Boa are just protecting themselves, I stand to be corrected no single Nigerian governor is being owed June salaries whether half, or three quarter.
No legislator is being owed basic allowances, but here we are in Osun state being fed by a church, pensioners in Akwa Ibom treated like lepers, teachers in Kogi treated like ghosts that many of them are.
Like the Boa, and tortoise, the earlier we realize that we need to protect our food, the better—There is need to start asking questions, we need to demand answers to issues of governance, and stop all the current bickering.
If we do not…stop the salaries of governors and legislators…one question that will remain unanswered is will there ever be a year ending with salaries/pensions/entitlements not owed workers by these charlatans—Only time will tell.