By: Sunday Oyewole
The Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Afam Ogene, has said that the House is ready to hold public hearing on its earnings in the last eight years, but added that a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, must also be ready to account for N422.5 billion she spent in one year.
Ogene, in a statement issued on Thursday was reacting to Mrs. Ezekwesili’s accusation that members of the National Assembly spent a whopping N1 trillion in the last eight years, and went further to challenge them to organize a public hearing on their pay.
The Deputy Chairman said the former Minister’s accusation was “anchored on wrong deployment of figures, weird generalizations and outright falsehood”, adding that she was only trying to gain national consciousness as a moral crusader.
“For an ex-official of government, who between the 2006-2007 federal budgets, superintended over a total budget of N422.5 billion as Education Minister, what percentage of the public fund was expended by her as recurrent cost?
“Indeed, answers to these posers are necessary in the build-up to Mrs. Ezekwesili’s anticipated incarnation as an activist, else she would once again embark on spontaneous flight of fancy, whose major destination is mere ruffling of feathers,” Ogene stated.
It also baffles the lawmaker how a former Cabinet member would believe what was published by ‘The Economist’ and threw away the figures supplied by the nation’s Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission relating to salaries of public officials.
The statement reads further, “There appears to be no let-up in the crave by former Education Minister, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili to get back into national consciousness, simply by randomly throwing pot shots anchored on misplaced aggression, in the ardent hope that such mudslinging would elevate her to the status of a moral crusader.
“Nigerians would remember that in the course of a similar misadventure, in January 2013, Mrs. Ezekwesili had made wild claims bordering on the alleged frittering of $45 billion of the country’s external reserves, and $22 billion in the excess crude account. While she is yet to fully justify those allegations, the former Minister is this time seeking a fresh sparring partner in the Legislature.
“If it were not so, why would an address which centered on a “cost of governance in Nigeria” be curiously limited to an inquest into the operations of the National Assembly, leaving out the other two arms and arriving at the rather simplistic suggestion of the introduction of a unicameral or part-time legislature as the panacea of all Nigeria’s problems.
“What is the percentage of the National Assembly’s N150 billion allocation in a budget of N4.9 trillion? Is it right to insinuate that the budgetary allocation for the National Assembly is for “members salaries and allowances”, while deliberately leaving out capital projects component, salaries of legislative aides and the bureaucracy, as well as allied institutions such as Institute for Legislative Studies, NILS?
“What is the total disbursement to the Executive and the Judiciary arms of government over the same eight-year period? If she was not mischievous, why would she elect to believe The Economist, rather than the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC over the issue of salaries of Nigerian public officials,” the deputy spokesperson queried.