Tell Nigerian Legislators To Obey The Law

On August 29, 2012, Punch reported that “National Assembly, through its Clerk, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to stay execution of its judgment ordering it to disclose the earnings of its members.”

Many Nigerians will remember that Justice Balkisu Aliyu, in a June 25 judgment on a suit filed by Legal Defence and Assistance Project, ordered the National Assembly through its Clerk “to give detailed information of salary, emolument and allowances paid” to all the federal lawmakers from June 2007 to May 2011.

Nigerians know that, relative to the health of the economy and perceived quality of work done by federal lawmakers, our legislators are overpaid. However, no one really knows exactly what they take home. The fact that a court order asking for such is now being fought deepens the fear that what we’ve complained about is even less than their pay.

Noting that many lawmakers are now taking advantage of social media platforms to communicate with Nigerians and others, it may be a good idea to politely force them into a conversation about this elephant in the room. They should start, though, by obeying the law. One would expect lawmakers to avoid the tag of law breakers.

Follow them, if you’d be kind enough to, or simply monitor their timelines for tweets. Once they post any message, politely remind them of the issue at hand – the need to declare what they’re paid. Why? Because a court of law has asked them to do so. At least, for the specified period.

Let’s keep the conversation civil, and let this join our collective efforts towards cutting government waste. First, we need them to obey this court order. After that, we’ll return to ask the question: do we need to pay them this much considering the fact that 70% of Nigerians – the people they represent and serve – work much harder to earn much less.

And when anyone asks you if it’ll make any impact, tell them about the power of crowding out words that people would want to say but won’t because they know tens (and maybe hundreds) of tweets will follow, asking the same question they’re yet to answer. This may be the online equivalent of a filibuster-like action. Let the replies begin. Thank you!


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