A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, has boldly called for a substantial 50% reduction in the salaries and allowances of politicians, with a particular focus on lawmakers.
Moghalu made this compelling recommendation during an interview on Channel TV’s Politics Today. His stance is underpinned by the current economic challenges faced by Nigeria, and he asserts that the lavish spending of political elites is incongruous with the prevailing economic conditions of the country they are entrusted to govern.
In the midst of Nigeria’s ongoing struggle to address the complexities of petroleum subsidy removal, Moghalu’s assertion that political leadership and appointees continue to demonstrate a culture of extravagance rings true. He argues that a fundamental shift in the culture of governance is urgently required, starting from the highest echelons of power—the presidency—and cascading down through the various tiers of government, including the National Assembly, which he believes should play a pivotal role in reevaluating their own fiscal commitments.
Moghalu emphatically stated, “It has to include the National Assembly because a lot of resources go there, and they are supposed to be independent of the executive. So, they must come on board, examine themselves, and say: ‘Look, even if we have been making this mistake in the past, we cannot continue this way. We have to cut our salaries.’ I recommend a 50% cut for all political office holders and all national legislators. It would make people a little bit more sober. It would make them understand that we are in hard times.”
This call for austerity and responsible financial management by political officeholders comes on the heels of public outcry over the allocation of brand new 2023 model Toyota SUVs to the 360 members of the National Assembly, each valued at over N100 million. In a nation grappling with a severe economic crisis, this extravagant allocation raised eyebrows and ignited widespread criticism from concerned Nigerians.
In response to these concerns, Akin Rotimi, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, defended the allocation, asserting that it is customary for newly elected members to receive such vehicles to facilitate their legislative duties. He further explained that members are expected to make payments over time for these vehicles. However, Moghalu remains unswayed, contending that this kind of lavish expenditure contributes to a culture of self-indulgence and undermines the essence of public service.
Moghalu juxtaposed Nigeria with Scandinavian countries, where lawmakers, in stark contrast, opt for bicycles as their mode of transport to the legislature. He underscored the negative implications of excessive displays of power and influence within Nigerian governance, which, in his view, undermine the core principles of government—service, leadership, and accountability.
Taking his critique a step further, Moghalu questioned the country’s pursuit of an additional $1.5 billion loan from the World Bank. He voiced skepticism about the utilization of such funds for their intended purposes, pointing out that the fundamental problem plaguing the nation is the behavior of the political class, characterized by self-interest and the pursuit of rent-seeking opportunities, rather than the issue of borrowing itself.
In essence, Kingsley Moghalu’s call for a 50% reduction in the salaries and allowances of politicians, especially lawmakers, reverberates as a resounding call for accountability, fiscal prudence, and a recommitment to the service-oriented essence of governance. It raises important questions about the values and priorities of political leaders and their responsibilities to the Nigerian people during challenging economic times. This recommendation underscores the urgent need for a cultural shift within Nigerian politics—one that places the welfare and prosperity of the nation above personal gain and luxury.
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