Senator Rochas Okorocha, representing Imo West senatorial district in the 9th Assembly, has said that he has not received any salary since he became senator.
Okorocha suggested the cutting down of salaries and allowances of legislators and the executives by 50 to 70 per cent as part of cost-cutting measures to pacify.
Speaking in Abuja, the Senator warned that the expensive lifestyle of most Nigerian leaders were, in part, reason for the recent protest even though he objected that the pay package of legislators were humongous as bandied around.
Asked whether such sacrifice by the leaders should be part of the measures to pacify the protesting youths, Senator Okorocha noted that sacrificing some percentage of their incomes will convince and give the youths sense of belonging that the leaders have made sacrifice for their sake.
“As I speak to you as a senator, I have not received a dime as salary since I became a senator. The point I want to make is that if you look at the allowances given to the senators and break it down into accommodation, transportation among others, it is definitely not out of place.
“You cannot bring somebody as a senator and expect him to live like a pauper who cannot afford a decent meal. I don’t know how much of information Nigerians get leading to the conclusion that senators receive so much. How much is house in Abuja in a year befitting of a senator.
“I have proposed that if we cannot carry the welfare of senators, we should make laws and cut number of senators down. I had previously advocated for one senator and three House of Representatives per state, but nobody listened to me. How do you justify bringing in a senator to Abuja without a car or okada to move around.
“The situation now calls for national sacrifice from the leadership of this country. I want to suggest that even if it will take turning the senators into living in hostels, let everybody cut down 50 to 70 per cent his or her income so that the youths will also have a sense of belonging that the leaders are making sacrifice.
“The truth is that our lifestyles provoke the youths. We must call on leaders, the legislatures and executives, to change our lifestyle as a mark of sacrifice. It is not necessarily because they are comfortable with what they get. And even when they get, they have thousands of people that supported them in addition to the extended family system in Africa.
“There are in-laws, friends, classmates, and political associates always around them and at the end of the day, the Federal Assembly members end up in penury.
However, I strongly advocate that the legislatures and executives must make sacrifices from their salaries and allowances as a way of ameliorating the situation the youths are facing,” he said.
While commenting further on the protest, Okorocha said: “I am sad over the ugly situation we found ourselves as a nation within the past few weeks arising from the #EndSARS protests that degenerated into violence anarchy and civil unrest with many people losing their lives.
However, I want to say that this is a wakeup call by the youths of this country to the leaders of this nation. It is a pointer that we the elite have been selfish in handling the affairs of this country. There has been a track record of unfair leadership for a long time.
“The #endSARS protest is not just targeted at police but a disappointment over economic issues in a nation where the youths are facing joblessness and poverty. While commending President Buhari for the actions taken so far, especially in reassuring the youths of meeting up their demands, we must also act quickly under this present situation to prepare for the future.
“Today, we have millions of out of school children in this country; it is another time bomb for tomorrow. While the situation is getting under control, government and leaders must rise to their responsibilities to ensure that such future occurrences did not happen again.
“Yes, it was anchored in #endSARS, the Nigerian youths are not against the police but against certain segment of the police formation. So, killing innocent police and military personnel is really uncalled for. The social media did not also help matters in this period especially when people will post old pictures and make them look like current ones with people believing in it and acting otherwise
“If we must protect this nation, then we must be wary of the dangers social media portray us. I want to appeal to Mr President that as a father, he should ensure that we treat the protesters as our children. They have no other nation to call theirs.
“We must take some steps towards showing understanding over what has happened. However, I call on all political, religious leaders irrespective of affiliations to rise up to condemn the condemnable and call for peace in every part of the country,” he charged.