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The bias against the Legislature is the highest form of self-sabotage: My response to SERAP’s threatened court action – Hon Benjamin Okezie Kalu

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Rep. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Spokesperson House of Reps.
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Of all three arms of government, the legislature does not necessarily fare well when it comes to approval ratings. This image problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. There are so few countries in the world where the legislature as an institution enjoys good popularity; including the United States of America which we often hail as the most ideal democracy. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({}); A Gallup poll shows that only 20% of Americans approve of Congress. In fact, in over 10 years, the Congress has not enjoyed up to a 30% approval rating and according to the Pew Research Center, only 17% of Americans currently trust their government always or most of the time. It is therefore, not hard to imagine that for a developing state like Nigeria, our legislature enjoys considerably less than 20% approval rating.

While it is understandable that the legislature, being the closest arm of government to the people has to bear the brunt of their frustrations at the executive arm of government, we must take care that our bias against the legislature does not become a grand act of self-sabotage.

The fulcrum of any democratic government is the legislature- the assembly of the elected representatives of the people. Its presence is the key identifier of a democracy. Such an institution where representatives from all parts of Nigeria sit on a daily basis to deliberate on the affairs of the nation and make laws for the benefit of the country should be cherished, preserved and accorded all tools necessary (including the benefit of doubt) to serve the nation.

A few days ago, news broke that SERAP was suing the House of Representatives for plans to spend N5.04bn on “exotic” cars. In view of the brouhaha on the purchase of official vehicles, I decided to give my two cents before the house is properly served closing any window to address a matter before the court;

  1. OFFICIAL VEHICLES ARE A LUXURY FOR LEGISLATORS (MISCONCEPTION)
    I will try to avoid stressing the discriminatory nature of this misconception which deliberately overlooks the fact that all the honourable ministers, permanent secretaries, directors, assistant directors and management level staff of the 42 ministries and 400 parastatals of the executive arm, with its over 15,000 nationwide offices are routinely given official vehicles; not to mention the 180 judges and justices of the federal judiciary along with their senior level staff who are entitled to official vehicles including SUVs. But instead, I will focus on the fact that for legislators, these official vehicles are a matter of necessity.

We too easily lose sight of the importance and utilitarian value of the legislature whenever we relish that red-hot chilli stew of sweet outrage at government. The legislature carries out an important duty of oversight as mandated by sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution. This singular duty routinely exposes the corruption and inefficiencies of the executive often amounting to trillions of naira, the very inefficiencies which create the dissatisfaction of Nigerians with government.

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A look in recent history shows how in 2013, National Assembly uncovered a theft of N195 billion pension funds by the Pension Reform Task Force (PRTF), as well as a N255million fraud by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA) and a N2 trillion fraud in the executive. In the current assembly, the House has investigated several instances of inefficiency and corruption, including extra budgetary spending by NDDC. For example, barely a week after its inauguration, the House had gone to work investigating the underuse of the Warri, Onne, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Onitsha seaport complexes as well as the loss of over N600bn monthly revenue from the Apapa Gridlock/Congestion.

The course of carrying out this good work frequently takes legislators on investigative trips around the country, often requiring them to access remote locations of Nigeria via bad roads. It would interest Nigerians to know that in several of the oversight investigations undertaken by this 9th Assembly, it was the vehicles of the very Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which were under investigation that picked the visiting legislators from the airport and commuted them to the various locations throughout their investigations. By this very reason, is not the report of that investigative committee already tainted in the eyes of any rational person? How is a legislator expected to ask the hard-hitting questions during an investigation when they are not sure of their ride back to the hotel, or even their accommodation and safety for the night? Did you know that in many cases, it is even the MDA under investigation who provides the security escort and accommodation for visiting legislators? I digress, but this is a point I shall revisit later.

Now, considering this from a purely utilitarian perspective, is it not wise to ensure that legislators have their own vehicular transportation, if only to preserve the integrity of the work they do for Nigerians? Moreover, considering the undesirable nature of the roads in most parts of Nigeria, is it not prudent to see that the official vehicles approved for these legislators are efficient enough to grant them unhindered ingress and egress to all locations in the country to enable them do their job without incurring the costs of maintenance due to frequent breakdown?

I posit that our outrage as Nigerians because legislators approved Toyota Camrys for themselves is misplaced and better directed at the over 400 parastatals of the executive. I would also go further as to say that considering the state of Nigerian roads (which the executive is responsible for fixing by the way) SUVs and not saloon cars or Camrys, should be approved for use by legislators in their official duties.

  1. A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF OFFICIAL VEHICLE ENTITLEMENTS PER ARM OF GOVERNMENT Despite an earlier promise to avoid this subject, in the matter of government spending on official vehicles, it is only fair compare the entitlement of legislators with other public servants in the same service cadre.
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Recall that in the order of protocol in the National Order of Precedence Act, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives rank quite higher than Ministers, Ambassadors, SAs to the president, the SGF, the CBN governor, the service chiefs, the IGP, Court of Appeal Justices, Federal High Court Judges, Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Heads of Agencies etc. Yet, several of these persons have approved for them, up to 3 vehicles (including escort vehicles) to enable them conduct their official assignments. Where is the fairness or moral justification for us to complain when legislators get just one vehicle each?

If other arms of government routinely use SUVs as official vehicles, is it fair to reduce the entitlements of federal legislators who do more for the nation to less than what is obtainable at the same level of service cadre? How do we reconcile the fact that every year, legislators sit in Appropriation committees validating the purchase of SUVs for public servants who they oversight and yet cannot drive the same vehicles to visit them for investigations?

  1. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REJECTED A QUOTATION FROM NIGERIAN CAR MAKER
    Following rumours swirling around the interwebs, a simple investigation into the validity of the allegations revealed that no quotation was offered to the House for consideration by any Nigerian car maker. However, if indeed there was, the public is invited to present proof of this in the interest of all Nigerians.
  2. THE ALLOWANCES OF LEGISLATORS IS EXCESSIVE (MISCONCEPTION)
    The argument that overseas, the legislative arm is less expensive is weak because a comparative analysis shows that except in a few isolated and extreme cases, the entitlement of legislators in Nigeria is at par or even less than those of their colleagues overseas.
    For the sake of clarity, in standard parliamentary practice, legislators have two entitlements in terms of remuneration- their basic salary for personal use, and allowances for use in running their offices, research, stakeholder engagements, trainings, trips, constituency offices, constituency outreaches, security and others costs attendant to performing their law making, representative and oversight duties.
    For example, in the United States, the current base salary for Senators and Representatives is $174,000 per year amounting to about N5.2m per month. Outside this, each legislator is allowed a Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA) of up to $1,268,520 (N456.6m) which is an allowance of about N38m per month. This is humongous compared the pittance salaries and allowances of Nigerian legislators; and is particularly discouraging to representatives who choose not to operate only in Abuja to the neglect of their constituents back home.

The legislature as an arm of government does enormous work. In addition to the demands of law making and effective representation, only 360 representatives are saddled with the responsibility of supervising and investigating the activities of all of 400 parastatals of government to uncover all manner of inefficiencies and fraudulent activities there. This entails the sacrifices of various committees who struggle to carry out this responsibility with limited funds.

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CONCLUSION: FENNO’S PARADOX
One political phenomenon that strikes me is the Fenno’s Paradox- this is where we generally disapprove of the National Assembly as a whole, but support the senators and representatives from our own senatorial districts and constituencies. For instance, despite a 13% approval rating, 95% of incumbents in United States Congress were re-elected in 2014. In Nigeria, despite the National Assembly’s unpopularity, over 60% of incumbent legislators are re-elected every election.

If 60% of Nigerians are happy with their legislator but unhappy with the legislature, then there is a bias that begs consideration. What has caused this bias? Is it a result of deliberate misinformation by mischief makers or acute ignorance? If you wonder why Nigerians continually launch lopsided attacks on the only arm of government that directly represents their interest, the following excerpt from my address as the spokesperson of the House during the unveiling of the Green Chamber Magazine captures it very aptly;

“Several misconceptions about its [the legislature’s] operations, duties and achievements abound in the public domain propagated by mischief makers and fuelled by commercialized news reportage as well as acute ignorance of the workings of the legislature. The legislature is expected to exist in perpetual acrimony with the executive by the very same Nigerians who will be disadvantaged by such discordant governance. In addition, Nigerians have been conditioned to appraise the National Assembly with the same terms of reference as they would the Executive without regard to the distinctive nature of legislative duties under the 1999 Constitution, thereby engendering a deep-seated scepticism about the legislature’s commitment to national development.”

Of all public servants at the federal level, the legislator is the one closest to the grassroots and therefore it is understandable- logical even, to blame them for the failings of government. However, the question remains whether we are judging the National Assembly through a fair lens or allowing our appraisal to be biased by our frustrations.

Rep. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Spokesperson House of Reps.

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Workers Day: Amb Samuel Sends Strong Message To Governor Ododo, President Tinubu

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A  Chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Ambassador Samuel A. Dajuma
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A Kogi-born politician, Amb Samuel A. Danjuma has sentt a strong message to the Kogi State Governor Ahmed USMAN Ododo and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu while emphasiing the importance of collective effort and dedication in moving the affairs of Kogi State, and Nigeria to an enviable pedestal.








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He made this emphasis while interacting with journalist in Abuja during this year Workers Day Celebration.

The Businessman and young progressive politician said, “I stood alongside the worker-friendly Governor of Kogi State, Ahmed USMAN Ododo, in extending warm wishes to Kogi workers and workers worldwide on this year’s Workers’ Day. Together, they reassured the dedicated workforce of Kogi State of a promising future ahead, filled with opportunities for growth and prosperity.”

“Amb Samuel urged the workers to reciprocate this gesture by continuing to give their best in their respective roles, contributing to the overall development and progress of the state. He emphasized the importance of collective effort and dedication in achieving common goals and aspirations.”

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He further appealled to the Federal Government led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to address the pressing issue of rising fuel prices, which has caused hardship for many Nigerians.

He urges the President to intensify efforts on stabilizing fuel prices and advocated for the establishment of a price control board to ensure fair pricing and alleviate the burden on the populace.

Danjuma expressed gratitude to the President for the recent salary increament for civil servants, acknowledging this as a positive step towards improving the welfare of workers across the country.

In alignment with Governor Ododo’s worker-friendly policies, Amb Samuel A. Danjuma reaffirmed his commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of workers, both in Kogi State and beyond, and emphasized the importance of collaboration between government and labor in building a brighter future for all.

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International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement and occurs every year on 1 May, or the first Monday in May.

May 1 is traditionally, the date of the European spring festival of May Day. In 1889, the Marxist International Socialist Congress met in Paris and established the Second International as a successor to the earlier International Workingmen’s Association. They adopted a resolution for a “great international demonstration” in support of working-class demands for the eight-hour day. The 1 May date was chosen by the American Federation of Labor to commemorate a general strike in the United States, which had begun on 1 May 1886 and culminated in the Haymarket affair four days later. The demonstration subsequently became a yearly event.


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Abdulrahman Obaje

Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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ICDA Expressed Pride in Okutepa’s Selfless Service to The Igala Kingdom

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The Igala Cultural and Development Association, ICDA has expressed a deep pride in SAN (Chief) Jibrin Samue Okutepa’s selfless service to the Igala kingdom, acknowledging his significant contributions.


This is during a courtesy visit by the delegation from the Igala Cultural and development Development Association (ICDA), Adamawa State branch.





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at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola.

Okutepa, the distinguished guest speaker at the Annual Lecture organized by Gabriel Adikwu & Co., deliveed a powerful presentation on “The Nobility of the Legal Profession in Nigeria” through a detailed PowerPoint display.

During the meeting, the Igala community expressed deep pride in Chief Jibrin Samuel Okutepa, SAN. selfless service to the Igala kingdom, acknowledging his significant contributions.

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A vote of confidence was also passed by the community, affirming their commitment to support Okutepa. in any future endeavors he undertakes on behalf of the Igala community.

On the delegation were Sir Joe Atabo, ICDA Zonal coordinator North East,l Mall Danlami Yahaya, the ICDA Chairman of Adamawa State, accompanied by his vice, Mr Anthony UKUMONU. With other respected Igala icon such as Dr Idris Omede (CON), among others.

Special prayers were offered for the amiable SAN. for continued success, divine favor, and protection.

The occasion was marked by a spirit of unity and gratitude towards chief Okutepa’ for his leadership and dedication to the Igala community.

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This engagement underscores the strong bonds between the Igala community and SAN Okutepa. highlighting a shared commitment to advancing the welfare and interests of the Igala people through legal advocacy and community service.

In response Chief OkutepaA. Prayed God to continue to unite  the igala community in Adamawa State and else where thanking them for the visit and enjoyed them to keep working as brothers and sisters.




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Abdulrahman Obaje

Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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Alleged N80.2billion Money Laundering: EFCC Declares Immediate Kogi Ex-Governor Yahaya Bello Wanted

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EFCC Declares Immediate Kogi Ex-Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello Wanted Over N80.2 Billion Fraud
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has declared the immediate Kogi State-ex-governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello, wanted over N80.2 billion financial crimes.

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EFCC wrote this on its verified social media handle on Thursday evening where the photograph of the former governor was displayed with the inscription ‘WANTED’, that “Former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is wanted by the EFCC for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.

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adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({}); 2 Billion. Anybody with information as to his whereabouts should report immediately to the Commission or the nearest Police Station.”
EFCC Declares Immediate Kogi Ex-Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello Wanted Over N80.2 Billion Fraud

EFCC Declares Immediate Kogi Ex-Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello Wanted Over N80.2 Billion Fraud

Informavores recalls that Bello was billed for arraignment before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja this Thursday, April 18, 2024.

EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, had said Bello was to be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite alongside three other suspects, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19- count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N80, 246, 470, 088.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty Six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eight Nine Naira, Eighty Eight Kobo).

Bello’s arraignment is coming on the heels of a warrant of arrest and enrolment order granted the EFCC by the court on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Count one of the charges reads: That you, Yahaya Adoza Bello, Ali Bello, Dauda Suliman, and Abdulsalam Hudu( Still at large), sometime, in February, 2016, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N80, 246,470, 088.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty Six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eight Nine Naira, Eighty Eight Kobo), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended”.

Count 17 of the charges read: “That you Yahaya Bello between 26th July 2021 to 6th April 2022 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court aided E-Traders International Limited to conceal the aggregate sum of N3, 081, 804,654.00 (Three Billion, Eighty One Million Eight Hundred and Four Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Four Naira) in account number 1451458080 domiciled in Access BankPlc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

Count 18 of the charges reads: “That you Yahaya Adoza Bello sometime in November 2021 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court indirectly procured E-Traders international Limited to transfer the aggregate sum of $570,330.00 (Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty Dollars) to account number 4266644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15( 3) of the same Act”.

The Commission’s attempt to execute the Warrant of Arrest lawfully obtained against Bello met stiff resistance on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. The security cordon around the former governor’s residence in Abuja was breached by the current Governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo who ensured that the suspect was spirited away in his official vehicle. As a responsible law enforcement agency, the EFCC exercised restraint in the face of the provocation, waiting for his arraignment on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

The statement further said that, “It is needful to state that Bello is not above the law and would be brought to justice as soon as possible.”

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