Bayelsa Salary Issue: Where Is Ben Murray-Bruce?

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce

By Goke Butika

“If we are in poverty, we can lie our way through, but we should elect not to embark on hypocrisy and conspiracy because of the consequence of death,”—-Ifa panegyrics.
President Muhammadu Buhari while explaining the parlous state of economy in Nigeria pointed to the fact that 27 states of out 36 have difficulty in paying workers’ salaries, ascribing the challenge to the crash of crude oil price and zero productivity, and it was widely reported in all dailies and electronic media.
Last week, an interesting headline seized front pages, that workers in oil rich Bayelsa state with eight Local Government council Areas were resorting to begging for survival as a result of delay in salaries close to six months. Whereas, Oyo state, one of the biggest states in the country has entered into a deal of placing all his allocations from the federation account for salaries alone in order to halt an imminent strike.
In a related development, while the nation’s currency was taking plunge for US dollar, the President and his team became sleepless on the drama of death at the forex market, but Buhari appeared clever in this game of baiting as he extends the country’s net of international engagement to the East, particularly China, the second economic super power of the world as against the pressure from the West on him to reduce the value of naira.
However, what appears to be troubling “Ajebamidele” is different from his son. While Ajebamidele was thinking of making more money for the family, the son wanted more food. While the President was losing sleep to fix the country in response to the cry of the millions, the representatives of the same people at the National Assembly were busy padding national budget with secret projects that would get them more money to make statement of “new arrival” on the political permutation of their states; don’t ask me about the intention of top national assembly members who want to become governors in 2018/19 in their states.  At the same time, the Senate under the leadership of the embattled Senator Bukola Saraki was struggling to alter two bills: Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal (CCB/T) and Administration of Criminal Justice.
To the best of my knowledge, the first bill must be altered to help the Senate President who has run from frying pan to furnace with a view to evading  justice on his alleged criminal past at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, while the second bill must be quickly passed to return the snaily speed of justice which could make Saraki’s case last eternity. And I found my justification in the words of Ekiti Senator-Ekiti again! Biodun Olujinmi, the impeached deputy governor to Ayo Fayose-Fayose again! She said: “If you don’t help your neighbour when his house is burning, you will not get help when the fire reaches your house.” In one piece,  the Senate of the Federal Republic has become “stock exchange market for corruption.”
Yes, some critics have their misgivings about the China deal, but yours sincerely thumb up for it, because it makes sense to say that an import dependent nation like Nigeria must get its Maths right. We import over 80 percent of wares from China, but used US dollar to denominate the transactions, making the naira to be chasing the dollar that would later be changed to yuan, Chinese currency. In the exchange, naira gets weaker, dollar gets stronger. Now, with the new deal, Nigerian importer would exchange naira for Chinese yuan at rate of N30 for a yuan, the import would be done with ease; machinery for local industries would be procured at cheaper rate; while dollar would have rest from hot chase, and possibly relax and reflex on its hike, and the economy would be on its legs again. If I am wrong, let the economists fault my argument and come up with convincing one.
Let it be known that the narratives I have read about the other side of arguments against the China deal seem to be planted by the looters who had stocked looted dollars in their soak aways with a view to be selling it at higher rate for the benefit of their families alone. But the analyses above were not even the hit of this piece, the meat is to draw out the “common sense” Senator Ben Bruce who once mocked State of Osun on national media that he would be donating his wardrobe allowance to its workers in sympathy to their agitation on delayed salaries, that Bayelsa, his home state where he represents could not pay for ten months now at the Local Governments and six months at the state level, and common sense suggests that Bruce begins to release his jumbo salary to the workers there.
Today, Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun who was their boot of jokes some months back while he declared that the nation’s economic downturn has hit his state badly has found his template for fixing his remaining  projects, paying though not regularly, the reworked salaries known as “afusa” pejoratively means half salaries for some categories of workers, and enjoying his peace with work force in the state, while watching states with bigger allocations with “nosa” pejoratively means no salary with justifiable concern.
The long and short of my story is that Nigerians should know that we are in a dire strait, the country is in need of collective will and unalloyed support, and certainly the support for a better Nigeria would not come from the National Assembly, because the guys there want to be rich quick at the expense of the vulnerable citizens. So, it is high time we rose to support Nigeria project under President Buhari.
Butika is a journalist of intercontinental exposure