A war of attrition is brewing between some federal lawmakers and a governor in the South West over the refusal of the latter to continue paying monthly “appreciation fee” to the governor.
An impeccable source at the National Assembly told this Newsherald in confidence that the lawmakers since the inauguration of the 8th session of the parliament in June 2015 have been paying one million naira each to the governor as “appreciation fee”.
One of the lawmakers, a member of the House of Representative confirmed to this newspaper that the governor who almost single-handedly gave them the ticket to the Federal parliament have been collecting the sum from them as his own share as the “god-father”.
According to the lawmaker who craved anonymity for security reasons, the contribution was not a formal agreement entered into before they were handed the ticket to fly the flag of their party during the last election.
However, the second term governor (identity concealed) was said to have made the demand as soon as the preparation for inauguration of the National Assembly commenced.
The payment, it was said, was being made by all the lawmakers including the three senators from the State. Aside from the monthly contribution to the governor, it was also gathered that the legislators were by matter of compulsion, made to pay certain amount of money to the purse of the party in the State, and also service their own constituencies from whatever they earn as salaries and allowances in the parliament.
Speaking with our correspondent in confidence, one of the lawmakers affected by the “monthly contribution” to the governor disclosed that all of them were tired of making the payment but majority of them are really afraid of what length the governor can go in exerting punishment should they openly revolt.
He, however, disclosed that two of his colleagues in the house of representatives have taken their own destinies into their hands by calling the bluff of the governor when a senator did same and damned the consequences. According to him, the three lawmakers stopped paying the money January this year.
However, the “bold” lawmakers”, he said, have become fugitives in the State, entering their home town at night and leaving quietly so as to escape the fury of the governor who has been unusually quiet on the matter, a posture alien to his known nature when money matters are at stake.
The bitter lawmaker disclosed in confidence to this newspaper that a meeting had been held among the rest of them, towards seeking a way of reducing the monthly payment to a maximum five hundred thousand naira, if the governor cannot set them free totally.
“Sincerely, as a person, I’m tired of paying the monthly appreciation fee. Do you know the number of Reps member from my state? Now calculate 12 million naira in a year with the number of members in the parliament and multiply it with four years, then you can imagine how much someone is saving out of nothing for his retirement. That’s even if he’s going to retire after the expiration of his tenure. Who knows he may even want to come to the Senate when his tenure expires.
“My pain is mixed with anger because no one issues receipt for the payment we are making and the rest members of the party leaders in the State don’t even believe it when we told them what we are going through.
“My governor is a tough man, very difficult to please, but people see him as a man with conscience, whereas he doesn’t even have one.
“I have spoken to one of my colleagues who is also groaning in pains over the illegal payment and he’s expressed his readiness to join me in making the fight a public one should the governor refuse to see reason with us.
“You can’t probably imagine how much I spend daily attending to people’s needs. The governor is not someone anybody can just walk up to because of security around him, but we legislators have virtually become ATM machines to the electorate. We daily receive demands from the people who often times, resort to threat should you tell them you don’t have money.
“How many people can we satisfy with the meager amount we earn now? As you know, I’m a first term member and not even a committee chairman, so, I’m at a loss whenever I need to raise money for the need of the ever demanding people.
“Look, the worst that can happen is for me not to get a second term but even at that he’s not God, so I think the best option for us is to fight back.
“All of my friends are thinking I’m a stingy person because I can’t meet their needs but they don’t even know that I’m barely managing to survive. I’ve not finished offsetting my bills for the election, and the banks that gave me loan won’t take excuses if I can’t pay them as and when due.
“Nigerians will hear a lot of dirty things if and when the war starts. Somebody who has access to huge money as security allowance cannot and should not make us ATM machine. Don’t worry I will feed you in properly when the battle gets underway, I’m sure it will make a good reading for Nigerians when it gets to dominate the pages of newspapers. Just wait and see”, the enraged lawmaker said.
Attempts to get the comments of the said governor on the issue failed as his Special Adviser on Media refused to pick his call.