The Speaker of the Nigeria House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas has said unless Nigeria strengthened its rule of law and the fight against corruption, the country would not go anywhere.
He said the law of the land must be worked in such a way that both the “big and the small” are treated the same way to give everyone a sense of justice and fairness.
Speaker Abbas stated this at a reception organized in his honour by the Nigerian High Commission in London on Sunday night.
“In Nigeria, some people do whatever they like. You can commit any crime and go scot-free depending on the size of your pocket or the people you know. That has to go.
“Unless we are able to strengthen our rule of law to make it in such a way that it affects both the big and the small, and it doesn’t look at the face of whoever is committing an offense, we will never go anywhere,” he said.
Speaking on the war against corruption, Speaker Abbas said the country’s anti-corruption drive must also be strengthened for meaningful progress to be recorded.
One of such ways, he added, was to look at the living wage of workers with a view to enhancing it to make them to be “honest and transparent” in their dealings.
“We need to also intensify the war against corruption. No society in this world can ever thrive and be what it wants to be if corruption is the order of the day. But I agree that for you to fight corruption, there are some things you need to do.
“Let’s take the example of the UK experiment or the Western world. Fundamentally, what they did was to sit down and say let’s look at what an average worker would need to be paid as salary. Come up with a living wage that will take care of the basics of a person such that he won’t be looking outside his lawful income.
“Today, if you’re a labourer in London, you will be paid enough for you to go and pay your rent, take care of your basics and still be able to have a fairly good living. With that kind of incentive, you don’t need to go and borrow, you don’t need to go and beg, you don’t need to go and steal,” he said.
He said the current Nigerian situation is such that “an average worker earns less than what somebody can use to buy fuel to fill his car tank, you still want that man to be honest and transparent?, he asked rhetorically.
“For us to wage a war on corruption, we need to create an enabling environment where each and every one of us will be able to operate transparently without having to steal, without having to intimidate, without having to go and beg or to borrow. That is the beginning of the reform.
“If we can get the rule of law working, we will be able to work on the reforms necessary for fighting corruption. In fighting corruption, we also need to create an enabling environment where an average worker should be able to earn enough to live with his family.”
The Speaker also advocated for cultural revolution where a man maintains a family that he is able to take care of at a point in time.
“If your income can allow you to marry only one wife, you have to be restrained from taking more than one wife. If your income can allow you to take care of only four children, for example, you should restrain yourself.
“Nobody says you cannot marry as many as you want, provided you are willing to work and be able to take care of your family. What’s happening in Nigeria is that everyone wants to enjoy, but no one wants to make sacrifice in making sure that they support that enjoyment.
“So, my take is that we should fix the economy. Once you fix the economy, people will get employment. People will get good salary, and there will be enough money to fix infrastructure. We will be able to improve education, health and all other sectors. The key is the economy, and in fixing the economy, there are other variables that should be taken care of,” the Speaker said.
Earlier, the Nigerian High Commissioner to UK, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, said the reception was organized to honour Speaker Abbas “who has just emerged in a very popular election that is unprecedented.
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