Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Politics is a Dirty Game

“Politics isn't about big money or power games; it's about the improvement of people's lives”

Paul Wellstone

How right you are, Mr. Wellstone. Politics should be about improving the lives of people but people seem to forget that part.

The picture above was taken as we made our way back to Alagbado from Ijebu. There were dozens of motorcyclists waving banners and signs with some politician's face on it.

The 2011 Presidential elections will be held on April 9.

One day, I sat down and watched AIT (Africa International Television) news with my parents. We were bombarded with campaign commercials. It felt like every commercial was a political one.

Politicians go hard when it comes to campaigning. Politics in Nigeria has this intensity that I haven’t seen in the US. It truly feels like a do or die situation.

So I asked my parents “what’s the appeal of being in public office here? I understand the perks that must come with it and the power but it doesn’t explain the desperation.”

That's when my parents told me that Nigerian politicians make a lot of money during and after their term in office. They weren't sure how much so I did some research.

So how much do senators make in Nigeria, a third world country? A post on had it broken down like this:

Salary of a U.S. President: $250,000/yr.
GDP of the U.S. Economy: $13Trillion/ yr.
Allowance of a Nigerian Senator: $1,500,000/yr
GDP of the Nigerian. Economy: $45 Billion/yr.

I encourage everyone to check out these articles so they can read how the salaries of Nigerian legislators take up 25% of the overhead budget:

National Assembly Jumbo Pay - Fanning
the Embers of Revolution

Nigerian National Assembly Salary Saga

National Assembly and Jumbo Pay

The amount of money public officials make in Nigeria is disgusting. The minimum wage is less than 18,000 naira a month (that's about $113) and the people who are supposed to put the country and its people first are getting paid 2,456,647.7 ( about $15,000) a month? Not to mention the fact that they get allowances for everything from vehicles to newspapers. They even get a "hardship allowance".

This is old news here but I haven't been keeping up with Nigerian politics so I had no idea.

It has always been my belief that a career in politics is a career in public service, fit for people who have a vision for their country and wanted to dedicate their lives working towards that vision. How sad is it to think those in government are more concerned with fattening their pockets than improving the lives of the citizens?

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