Some of my fans and readers echoed by Dr. Dele Adigun demanded to know why I quietened off the social pages on burning issues in Nigeria, particularly, the drama of absurdity going on at the National Assembly, and I responded that the quest to frisk some outstanding books for replenishment is what took me off the stage.
However, the stench oozed out of budget padding story of Abdul Jubrin infamous vengeance against the leadership of the federal House of Representatives is enough an offensive odor to lure anyone with good sense and passion for change out.
Truly, things are changing, Nigeria political space is changing, but the actors on the political turf were not prepared for change, for the maladourous attitude that brought this country to the precipice of poverty and backwardness is very rewarding to them. Unfortunately, they have an incorrigible patriot whose integrity is not negotiable to contend with, in person of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Let's quickly examine what change is? To Heraclitus, an ancient thinker, change is permanence, because no one can step into the same flowing river twice. Pythagorean school of thought believes, that change occurs at every point in time; postulating that soul transmigrates from human to animals, depending on the character content of the person that carries the soul. Life itself has proved to be attuned with change, for our journey from cradle to grave is the dynamics of change.
So, in the past, the national assembly had grown in leaps and bounds in padding the budget of executive, and the past Presidents lacked the gall to challenge the corrupt legislators because they were also beneficiaries of the compromised budgets, a situation that had lingered and entrenched into a culture.
So, all aspirants into the federal parliament had their minds on padded budget and what is in it for them. Unfortunately, Nigerians knew all along that was the way of Abuja politicians, but the urge to get from the corrupt proceeds by begging for crumbs could not make them shout blue murder.
However, when Buhari won his election on the stable of change, the actors at the national assembly thought his integrity could not alter the acculturated corruption of budget padding. So, they padded the national estimates with phony and funny projects in anticipation of using the projects as baits for either second term or to woo the gullible electorate for governorship ambition. Buhari rejected it and insisted in having a correct version, but the gullible wailers were to impatient for new order.
I am not surprised about the story of Jubrin, because I was at a function in Osogbo with the Deputy Speaker Lasun Yusuf recently, where I represented my boss, and when he was offered a floor to make his speech, he boastfully disclosed that he has no less than 200 aides to himself, and more than that for the Speaker with pay that could make senior civil servants jealous. You wonder what a deputy speaker could be using 200 aides for? That is what makes the country to be floundering.
Yes, some people are offered free money through the wrong process, but any thinking person should know that was not the change the genuine electorate voted for. Besides, the deputy Speaker whose antecedent and the level of his comfort were known to the ordinary people in his hometown suddenly turned to "new money" in town; taking chieftaincy titles and donating money to groups, as long as they have supposed electoral advantage, in millions of naira. And people began to say: "So, there is money in being a deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.".
I was compelled to enquire about the salaries and allowances of the federal legislators and I found out that, yes, it is huge, but the flamboyant lifestyle of our lawmakers in this time of austerity has further exposed their antics to the public that they are living on padded budget, only to come home and behave as if they are wiser than the poor and the disadvantaged.
Honestly, it is disheartening to know that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo was right on the legislators at the national assembly when he described them as "assembly of rogues, thieves, and hooligans." But at least, the budget padding scam as authored by Jubrin, the disgraced Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation has painted to us the caliber of people we are dealing with.
It is heart rending to know that corruption has no political party. When it gets to stealing of public funds, APC, PDP do not count. That is situation of the country Nigerians are contending with. Let it be known that even if Buhari records no other achievement, exposing the wickedness of those who are parading as leaders is enough consolation for now.
Butika is an intercontinental journalist.
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