Recession: What lifestyles should government officials give up?

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Their extensive travels should be reduced. Their travelling first class and business class should be cut except they are using their personal funds. Also, government should cut the ‘estacodes’ they are given. In addition, they should review some of the extra emoluments they get apart from their salaries; all the extra entitlements. Normally, when a public official tells you he’s cutting his salary by half, it’s just a joke because the real drain from the public purse does not come from the salaries. The real drain comes from the entitlements they get. So, all the entitlements they get apart from their basic salaries should be reviewed downwards.

Sunday Soyemi (School principal)
I believe public officers deserve some of the pecks attached to the office they occupy in order for them to carry out their duties and responsibilities without any excuse. However, this should not be to the point of enriching themselves at the expense of the people.

There are lots of expensive ventures our public officers engage in which should be stopped forthwith. These include the sitting allowances some of the lawmakers collect without sponsoring a single bill throughout their period in the assembly. Most only end up saying ‘nay’ or ‘aye’ to motions.

Also, official cars must be purchased locally. Their salary should be moderate as this has been responsible for the “do-or-die” politics we play in Nigeria.

No one must travel out for medical attention unless it is absolutely necessary. Their travelling abroad must be curtailed, unless where necessary and it should be on economy class.

Ben Okezie (Security expert)
Nigeria is not cut out for full time legislature; it should be a part-time job. Instead of paying the lawmakers huge accommodation allowance, government could build a hotel where they can stay and the rooms could be rented out when they are not in session. It shouldn’t be a full time assignment.

We can also cut the purchase of expensive vehicles for them to save money and pay them sitting allowances only. Constituency allowance should also be scrapped and the money for should be allocated to local government councils for development. The legislators should liaise with council chairmen to supervise how the funds would be utilised. The lawmakers would no longer get salaries, only allowances. If they do this, it would reduce the billions of naira being expended on the National Assembly every year

Ejeh Smith (A photographer)
I think the legislative and executive arms of government need to curtail their spending. In other climes, lawmakers board trains to their offices and live in rented apartments because they are there to serve. But here in Nigeria, the case is different; the masses serve government officials. I think we should introduce that type of system into our country. We should introduce the death penalty for corrupt leaders. If we do these, things would change for the better in our country.

Charles Onunaiju (An author)
The challenge we have now calls for sacrifice by the leadership. In Asia, they had a similar problem during the Asian economic meltdown in 2007. The people of Malaysia had to start giving out their gold, belongings and other things to support the government. The lawmakers began to switch off their air conditioners in the parliament building as a way of saving energy to cut cost. These were the kind of sacrifices they offered, which might not matter in terms of money, but they were symbolic.

The challenge we have now is not just to get out of recession, but how to build our productive capacity. Nigeria literally produces nothing. The President has a fleet of aircraft. We thought his modesty would reflect on his presidency, but we are not seeing any of it. This was what he was criticising before becoming President. I don’t know what he needs nine aircraft for.

The British Prime Minister has no official aircraft; he travels by British Airways and this is a country of GDP of about $10,000. Why must the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, have presidential jets attached to them? In my view, there is so much sacrifice to be made by the political leadership. There is so much financial recklessness by the National Assembly and the Presidency, which should be curbed.

Bishop Seun Adeoye (Spokesperson, Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State)
It is sad that despite the bad economic situation in the country our so-called leaders are only after their own interest. They care less about the issues concerning the people they claim to be representing.

There is no Government House you go to and the occupants do not use generators when there is no public power supply. The number of vehicles in their convoy has not been reduced despite the recession. Are the vehicles using water or air? No! They spend taxpayers’ money to fuel them. They buy expensive bulletproof cars and lawmakers get furniture allowances and all kinds of ridiculous allowances at the expense of workers who are the ones generating the money.

While political office holders are living in affluence for doing next to nothing, workers are wallowing in penury. There is no corruption worse than this. The governors have excess money to spend through what is called security vote while indigenes of their states go about on empty stomachs. This must stop in the interest of the nation.

Inibehe Effiong (Convener, Coalition of Human Rights Defenders)
The present economic situation in the country necessitates a relegation of the profligate lifestyle of public officials.

Specifically, monies dissipated in the maintenance of long convoys, ‘estacodes’ and fat allowances for members of the legislature and executive; medical and housing provisions for ex-governors, numerous but needless aides, among others, should be drastically curtailed or abrogated outright.

We cannot continue to sustain the insatiable lifestyles of public officers. A situation where the members of the National Assembly keep acquiring exotic cars for themselves is unacceptable. Public officers should also be banned from flying business class with public funds.

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