Apart from corruption that has crippled Nigeria’s economy, another cankerworm that is devouring our nation’s treasury is the extravagant lifestyles of public office holders. The public officers do not show restraint in the usage of public resources as far as their pleasure and that of their families is in concerned. They are schooled in the art and science of ensuring maximum enjoyment of office to the detriment of the majority of the citizens. Their ostentatious lifestyles defy logic and commonsense.
This issue started long ago but regrettably the present government has not shown any sign that it would change the culture. Apart from the judiciary, the other two arms of government have always displayed their appetite for pleasure and comfort even when the economy is bleeding. At the beginning of this administration, the senators scorned the people by purchasing SUVs at a unit price of above N35m; that happened at a time the signs were obvious that the economy was not healthy. When questions were asked, their explanations were that these expensive cars were necessary for their oversight functions. What is painful about their decision was that it happened when experts were warning that Nigeria’s economy was heading for a fall. The lawmakers, at national and state levels, have continued in that fashion. These things are happening in a country where an average individual cannot afford a decent accommodation or a square meal.
The executives, both at the national and state levels, are in a world of their own. The worst are the governors, especially those from the South-East and South-South. What is heartbreaking is that these governors owe arrears of salaries of close to a year in some cases. They are eager to advise workers and citizens to tighten their belts, whereas their own belts enjoy abnormal elasticity.
Nigerians should take the destiny of this country into their hands. They should take an unusual step/s to flush out the parasites. Lawmakers that need to be recalled should be recalled while chief executives that require impeachment should be impeached. The majority cannot afford to be wallowing in poverty and squalor while the minority lives in opulence. •Monday Ubani (Vice-President, Nigerian Bar Association)
Salvaging the sinking economy requires absolute sacrifice and self-denial by public office holders. We cannot get a different result by doing the same thing the same way. Also, we cannot continue to circulate the same set of people whose obsolete and primordial ideas have yielded nothing other than an economic recession.
The practice where public officers shield themselves and their wives in bulletproof cars is nothing but a needless display of extravagance and affluence in a society where the larger population suffers untold hardship. If their policy framework and implementation gladden the minds of Nigerians, they would not need bulletproof cars to move about.
The change agenda of the current regime should be made total, starting from the top. State governors, after spending eight years wasting taxpayers’ money on bulletproof cars, proceed to the National Assembly with the same ostentatious disposition.
Whether we believe it or not, Nigeria has become a laughing stock in the global community. People are laughing at us because of our unserious leaders who cannot lead by example. We thought the presidential fleet would have been reduced to three by now. After all, we read of a country where the president moves around with a self-driven beetle car, a move borne out of stringent cost-saving measure. Despite the public outcry, the National Assembly members still went ahead to purchase extremely expensive SUVs. What a callous and insensitive decision! Now, the country is thinking of selling national assets to raise money to fund expensive governance. To get out of the recession, public officials should jettison their ostentatious living, cut their jumbo pay and entitlements and embark on selfless service. •Adeleye Matthew (Public affairs commentator)
We cannot continue to tolerate lavish and wasteful spending of public resources. What I have come to realise is that public officers are so deceitful that what they tell the masses is, in most cases, the opposite of what they do. The current administration is not different. They live lavishly on taxpayers’ money while the people are neglected. That cannot be tolerated.
You cannot be moving around in expensive bulletproof cars to tell the people to tighten their belts. If we must make a sacrifice, everybody should be ready to adjust his lifestyle. As a matter of fact, sacrifice at a difficult time like this should start with the public officers.
Everybody must pay a price. But my worry is that they are not ready to join the masses in sacrificing for the good of the country. Why should they use taxpayers’ money to buy bulletproof cars at this hard time? Do their families know what it means to be hungry?
The truth is that nothing has changed. Rather, what the people are saying is that President Muhammadu Buhari should take Nigeria back to where it was last year when he assumed office. He has not changed anything. Rather, the suffering has multiplied. Our demand is simple; Buhari should take Nigeria to the state it was when he took over power.
It took Buhari six months to compose the current cabinet, which has turned out to be the worst cabinet we have ever had. And all they do is to waste the country’s resources on extravagant lifestyles. They talk too much but do nothing. I am not a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party or any other opposition party. But I speak as a Nigerian. This administration has increased the woes of Nigerians. Its deceit is enough. We want to see impacts, not excuses. •Shettima Yerima (President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum)
Wasteful spending is one of the things that have ruined the country. It is one issue that the current administration is trying to stop. But we would recall that some of these things started several decades ago, and many people have actually benefitted from them. So, they are difficult to stop.
Notwithstanding, Nigerians are not ready to tolerate such wastages. It is the responsibility of the current administration to stop all forms of wasteful spending. The All Progressives Congress-led administration must be held responsible because it came to power on the wings of the promise to change things. I am sure the administration would change the culture of bulletproof cars. Maybe we should give it some time to see what it would do.
What we have is a civil government. So, the President cannot direct that an existing practice be stopped without following due process and meeting with relevant stakeholders for dialogue. The government would take the change agenda step by step. We can only pray that the judiciary and other concerned institutions live up to the expectation. Nobody wants waste. Actually, it is immoral for a few people to live in affluence in a society where many cannot meet their basic needs.
Apart from the elite, which are not up to five per cent of the population, not many people live comfortably. The wasteful avenue should be blocked so that Nigeria would be able to utilise its resources for the good of the majority. There should be justice and fairness in the way we use national resources. Every form of corruption should be tamed. •Frank Kokori (Human rights activist/former labour leader)
I am not sure any sane person would encourage public officers to continue to continue in their extravagant lifestyles, including the use of expensive cars.
Why should the so-called leaders protect themselves at the detriment of those they govern? Are their lives more precious? In a saner clime, the masses would revolt at the slightest display of ostentatious lifestyles by their leaders because the money they spend belongs to taxpayers.
The political leaders should put in more efforts at ensuring a more equitable distribution of our wealth. They should strive to create jobs in order to reduce unemployment. When they do that, the general society would be safer to live in. Doing this, to me, is a better security measure than buying bulletproof vehicles.
In my opinion, there should be a ban on the use of bulletproof cars by public officers with a few exceptions. Only the President, the Vice-President, governors, deputy governors and the leaders of the National Assembly should use bulletproof cars. This is because of the sensitive nature of their offices. But the relations of the listed public office holders should not be allowed have bulletproof cars. When we do this, public officers would see the need to ensure that the entire society is secured. •Olugbenga Adimula (Financial analyst)
It is unfortunate that despite the current economic crisis our the country, some reckless leaders have not controlled their wasteful spending of public resources, looting, outright stealing, misappropriation and diversion of public funds. Much of the spending has nothing to do with public well-being or creating conducive socio-economic atmosphere for productive activities.
Their primitive accumulation of wealth leads to this unreasonable spending. Also, this is a result of electoral frauds. They do not win election through transparent and participatory process. So, they are always afraid of the people they claim to represent. If you won an election through a fair contest and carry out your responsibility, you would not be hiding in bulletproof cars. But you would be scared when you know you manipulated the people and the process.
Instead of investing in health care, education, infrastructure and sustainable jobs through transparent and accountable governance, public officers choose to spend public funds on bulletproof cars for themselves and their families. This clearly shows lack of vision and an appetite to abuse public office.
It is high time Nigerians resisted this primitive culture and insist on prudent management of public resources. Democracy is not a license for reckless spending and wastefulness. Even if there was no economic recession, we must not allow this shameful act of mismanagement and diversion of public fund in the name of security. Enough of irresponsible spending, enough of expenditures that have no impact on the collective well-being of Nigerians. •Auwal Rafsanjani (Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre)