An Aberration Called ‘First Lady’

Editorial

In the eight Chapters of the Nigerian Constitution, including in Chapter Six which deals with the powers of Federal and State executives and their offices, there is no mention of ‘The Office Of The First Lady’. But elected office holders in the Nigeria, such as the president, governors and local government chairmen, have set up that office on their own and are illegally allocating huge sums of money, a retinue of aides and logistics to it. This is an aberration and must stop.

The wives of governors and local government chairmen now have buildings erected for that unconstitutional purpose. Their retinue of aides includes special media assistants, political advisers, security details and a rash of others who are paid by the government. Wives of elected political office holders should be seen on rare occasions and not thrust themselves on the people as if they were elected on the same tickets as their husbands.

In most states of the Federation, expensive fleet of cars are also purchased for their use. This is unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The illegal office was first set up by the late Maryam Babangida, wife of the former military Head of State, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. However, it has now assumed an alarming proportion and is increasing the already bloated cost of governance in Nigeria.

With over 70 percent of our national budget used to pay salaries and allowances of office holders and civil servants, very little money is left to cater for proper development. The health, education, research, science and technology and other key sectors, vital to national development are left to suffer while a few people milk the country dry. This is unacceptable and must be jettisoned.

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We believe that the office of the ‘First Lady’ must be scrapped and the funds allocated to that office used to better the lot of Nigerians. Attention must be paid to infrastructure development, education, health, research, science and technology and other sectors.

Even in the United States, the richest country in the world, efforts are being made to trim the cost of governance. Americans are trying to save trillions of dollars to bolster their economy and create jobs.

A deliberate effort is being made by their National Assembly and the White House to strengthen their private sector so that millions of Americans now out of job can get back to work. But in Nigeria, a country that the US dwarfs economically, the cost of governance is reaching to the skies. More ministers are appointed, more aides are called to serve, more public offices are set up and more money is spent on the government.

On the other hand, fewer opportunities are provided for youths to harness their potentials. That is why more Nigerians are becoming unemployed. Less attention paid to the economy and less research is being done. Nigeria cannot continue this way. We must get our priorities right and put our acts together if we want development in this country.