Aug 14, 2009

Plateau House of Assembly Passes Remuneration Review Law

The Plateau State House of Assembly yesterday passed a bill into law. The bill was the Bill for the Remuneration of Political Office holders at the second and third tiers of government in the state. Passing the bill into law followed the constitution of an ad hoc committee who meet with representatives of the affected officials at the state and local government levels during its plenary on August 5.

In the report submitted by the ad hoc committee headed by Honorable Dina Lar who represents Langtang Central Constituency at the Plateau State House of Assembly, the committee conveyed the feelings of the affected political office holders at the grassroots who expressed the lack of balance in the new remuneration package in the case that it targets the third tier of government and is an another expression of the contempt with which the tier of government has been held. The local tier according to the report that was circulated among newsmen questioned why their severance allowance should be abolished while that of commissioners is upheld. While the appointment of commissioners can be terminated by the Governor at anytime, the tenure of local government administrations can also be brought to an abrupt end anytime the Governor deems it fit. Based on this, the Association of Local Governments (ALGON) felt the decision should have been across board.

The Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission is responsible for the review of the salaries. The commission according to the report took away all allowances of political office holders at local government level. The argument of the commission is that almost all revenues accruing to local governments is eaten up by recurrent expenditure with practically nothing left for general development at that level of government. The Plateau State House of Assembly explained that it is compelled to pass the bill into law since it is a constitutional matter and subsequently did so. ALGON according to the House can still press for the correction of the imbalance despite the passing of the law.

Need for Reforms at the Third Tier of government in Nigeria

Sometimes this year the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Umar Musa Yar’adua stated that the remuneration of all political office holders across the nation will be renewed downwards in view of dwindling revenue resulting from the global economic meltdown. The President subsequently directed the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission to review the salaries and allowances of all political office holders for all tiers of governments in the country. This happened when the last administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo had just reviewed upwards, the salaries and remunerations of the same category of Nigerians just before he left office in 2007.

The proposal of the Revenue and Fiscal Commission must first be passed into law before the new salary structure can take effect. The National Assembly will pass the law in connection to political office holders at the national level while the state houses will do same for appointees at the state and local government levels. The complain at the local government level is that the review specifically targets them. The Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission argues that revenues at the third tier of government goes into the serving recurrent expenditure with little left for capital project, the only way other citizens outside of the local government pay roll can benefit.

The disproportionately huge workforces in the third tier of government, most of whom are redundant have been the subject of calls for downsizing by well intentioned Nigerians. This is because the local government was not created primarily to provide jobs but to administer development projects that will benefit the whole population at the local government. There are many issues bordering on local government administrations that need to be addressed. One crucial area is the qualification of persons that should hold political positions. The Nigerian constitution allows even primary school certificate holders to contest for political positions. Those who designed the constitution took into consideration the fact that it is that way in the US whose Presidential system of government we adopted. However they felt to take into consideration the fact that the standard of our schools are incomparable to those in the US. It will not be wrong if elected persons at the local government levels are graduates if that will ensure that they handle their businesses effectively. The situation now is such that there are elected officials who cannot comprehend the nature of their jobs. One wonders how they will be able to carry out their responsibilities effectively. The local government calls for a comprehensive reform.

Aug 11, 2009

Bitrus Kaze’s Scholarship Award Enters Second Year

Legislators in Nigeria have learnt to come to terms with the misunderstanding of the nature of their roles in the administration of the country by many of the folks they represent. A legislature’s responsibility is to make relevant legislation that will help in administering the constituency he represents. The people however don’t understand the difference between the roles of the legislators and the executive. They also expect the legislators to carry out projects. Since the legislators would not want to fall victims of ballot denial as a result of the ignorance of the people, they have resorted to satisfying some of these needs of the people they represent. There are also those who just feel the need to assist, considering the dire need for such assistance in the communities they represent. Such persons go to the extent of using their personal incomes to attend to such needs. The ignorance of the constituents has given rise to constituency allowance usually given officially to legislators to help them attend to these needs.

Honorable Bitrus Kaze is a Member Representing Jos South and East constituencies at the House of Representatives in Abuja. In order to live up to the unconstitutional demand of the people he represents, he last year started a scholarship programme for needy students of his constituency. The Personal Assistant of Honorable Kaze, Pam Dalyop, explained that in 2008, the first year of the programme, a total of 240 students studying at various institutions of higher learning benefitted from the programme. This year, an additional 60 students have been added to raise the total to 300. He says the scholarship is part of the broad effort towards community development as one way of achieving community development is to have an enlightened population that can work and cater for themselves and their extended family circles as is the tradition in Africa.

Dalyop praised his boss whom he referred to as “a law maker with a purpose” who wouldn’t want to make public his activities for the people as he believes his works will speak for him. All he wants from the people is their maximum support to enable him carry on with the responsibility to his people excellently.

A first year medical student of the University of Jos, Kim Dalyop Danboyi who came out of the constituency office with his hands loaded with one thousand naira bills said the initiative is of immense significance as long as students use the money for the purpose for which it is meant. He said he is not going to use his money to buy an expensive mobile phone or a set of fashionable jeans trousers like most students do. He has had a book, Biological Sciences, in mind and intends to use 65% of this allowance to buy that book. The money he says can also be used for the payment of tuition fees, particularly by students in the Polytechnic whose tuitions are highly subsidized. The medical student used himself as a proof to the fact that Kaze’s scholarship is real and admonished students to ensure that the money is put into proper use to help them in their studies.

Finangwai Dreams Big for Plateau State

Dr Hosea Finangwai. Source Dr Finangwai There is that saying that “the things that people desperately seek are always with them.” If ...