Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm too Smart

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Temperature of Hell

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Avoidable Trap of Cultural Relativism

10 December 2008

 It is easy enough to recognize what is meant by the expression 'cultural diversity’. That phrasing opens up culture, acknowledges the richness of man's creative existence and palpable manifestations of his inner sensibilities, his aesthetic impulses and sometimes even his spiritual intuitions. It conjures up a panoply of creativity, limitless, an expansion of the human horizon in ways that amplify even the most mundane aspects of the various activities involved in the reproducing of human existence. So far, so good. Unfortunately, another expression has crept into global usage, one that has done its best to substitute for an uncomplicated, thought multi-textured activity of human existence. That phrase of usurpation parades itself as –cultural relativism. And in what context does this substitute intrude itself? Naturally, in the much abused domain of Human Rights. So what exactly is Cultural Relativism?

A trap of course, a cunning device meant to lure the unwary into the counterfeit face of mutual tolerance of, and respect between cultures, that is, breed an attitude that legitimizes any form of conduct, as long as it can be attributed to cultural usage. It is a cynical design disguised as a mechanism for the promotion of the virtues of Diversity, deployed mostly by men in a position of power and their apologists. We encountered it, for instance, among the justifications for the creation of Bantustans in the apartheid era of South Africa.

Humanity is of course diverse. So, logically, are the products of his hand and mind, and sensibilities – culture above all else. Is it however possible to conceive of the relativity of one member of the human species to another? That would be to endorse the Nazi doctrine of racial selectivity and thus, of disposable humanity. The innate properties of each human unit, what collectively defines us as social beings in contrast to the rest of the animal world, cannot be relative – not if we accept that all sentient beings, despite their diversity, meet at a common destination known as humanity, and that all its members are indeed born with such innate properties.
What circumstances of birth, upbringing, opportunities and environment make of each is a different matter, but cannot be considered fundamental to the worth and validity of each individual, and thus to his or her entitlements from, and responsibility to the rest of society, in the pursuit of self-development and social relationships. The issue comes down, as always, to a contest between power and freedom, or human volition, and the desire of the former to encroach upon, and dominate the latter. Thus is laid that red herring, cultural relativism, evoked to make a hierarchical distinction between spaces of power and spaces of freedom. Part of our social responsibility is to come to the defence of the latter. Freedom, above all else, is guaranteed by a plurality of choices.

The trap of cultural relativism is well baited. On the surface, it parades itself as an expression of solidarity among cultures, an affirmation of the right to differing expressions of cultural production, social mores and values. It is hinged on the quite unassailable need for recognition of differences in historical formations, traditions and even strategies of development, the reality of which no one would reasonably argue against. Human society is shaped as much by climatic conditions– whose diversity also cannot be denied - as by history – including the origins of such societies, and the experience of external encounters. Cultural relativism claims to imbue us with a respect for these differences. In practice however – to cite extreme instances right away – it asks us to accept such barbarisms as 'honour killing' as justified by tradition, or dictatorship, even of the most brutal kind, as sanctified by a people's antecedent or ongoing experience, largely under duress, conveniently labelled political culture. It endorses the rights to discriminate between sexes, between races, and to accept the stratification of citizens on grounds of religious beliefs, colour of skin or gender.

Freedom, to which I have already briefly referred, is bound up in dignity. When you want to dehumanize an individual, you first rob your target of his or her dignity. In seeking to define dignity itself, all we need do is look for certain attributes, the lack of which – in contrast to the animal world is easily recognized as a denial of dignity. One immediate component of dignity quickly suggests itself, perhaps because it is so constantly contested. Indeed, its negative face is upheld as a necessity of governance, that component being -volition. The right to choose, the right to social and political choices. The most current, materially and humanly wasteful pursuit of this denial is what we are witnessing in Zimbabwe today, or was endured in Nigeria this past year. It is this denial that provokes perennial contestations. It unleashed a brutal detonation in Kenya only last year, continues to unravel the nation of Zimbabwe, and most recently brutalised the Plateau State – again in Nigeria -where nearly five hundred people perished within a matter of twenty-four hours. These are consequences of that denial of the fundamental right of volition –the right to choose. Volition is integral to the social dignity of man, and its denial often attains these abysmal depths where, in a vicious cycle, humanity reverts to worse than animal conduct in the struggle to retrieve its stolen dignity.

In addition to volition, there are also those other active rights that are couched in negative terms, the “Don'ts” - – the right not to be subjected to cruel and degrading treatments such as torture, the right not to be discriminated against for whatever reasons-race, religion , ideology or politics, physical attributes or circumstances of birth. We can debate ad infinitum the extent and limitations of these rights, being duty bound, realistically, to take into our recognition such parameters as where the rights of the individual conflict with those of the larger entity – the community, society or nation, or indeed conflict with the rights of other individuals. But such indeed, constitutes the logical basis of these fundamental human rights – the negotiation of social arrangements that serve to arbitrate between those individual rights on the one hand, and the rights of the rest on the other.

Like natural justice, those rights are innate and, at some point in the development of society, become recognized and codified as such –and this includes pre-literate communities. Oral traditions have served as a vehicle for the transmission of these rights, either directly, or as narratives whose deductions are affirmations of the fundamental rights of the individual within the community. All these references serve to remind us that culture itself is not static, that it transforms itself with increased mastery of the material of environment. This is what makes culture a constantly engrossing feature of the human adventure, enjoins us reach out for guiding concepts such as cultural connectivity, rather than cultural relativism which only promotes a hermetic, separatist tendency. Culture in the horse-and-carriage, camel and caravan, or timber raft and sailing boat era is not exactly the same as the culture in an era of space travel.

We have to address those societies and states which either fail to recognize this, or elect to evoke entitlement to cultural relativism in order to undermine or dismiss the universalist entitlement of human rights. I take it that it is the frustrating awareness of such conduct that makes it necessary for gatherings such as this, time after time, to remind such time-trapped, pristine pools of atavism that resistance to such anti-human notions is a human constant – if not now, then tomorrow. These rights are not conceded by other mortals, but lie at the very basis of the separation of the human species from its brutish, predatory cousins that inhabit the primordial jungles of the world. It lies behind the declaration of the Chief Scribe of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, of his expectations of a twenty-first century world. I quote:

"I believe that the twenty-first century will be defined by the commitment it devotes to the dignity and sanctity of every human life"

Kofi Annan, like his predecessors, dealt with governments. He was only too keenly aware of members of that governing club, who, among other ploys, constantly invoke responsibility for the collective security of all, in unusual times, in order to nibble away, at first imperceptibly, then ravenously, at structures of rights that have long been established, even in their founding constitutions. When, as operates today in the United States, you pass a Patriot Act that includes the right to intrude, unnecessarily into the private lives of citizens, to detain without due recourse to the law courts, you are not many light years behind those who legislate torture, ransom taking etc. all in the name of national security.

It all boils down to this: a reluctance, or outright refusal, to create an environment for the diversity of views in society, and on any subject under the sun. Thus has arisen the specious doctrine of cultural relativism in response to the outer world —our culture does not permit the exercise of dissent, or plurality of views. End of
discourse. Cultural relativism has been at the base of the conduct of those societies that openly adopt and implement policies of discrimination as a fundamental condition of state, manifested in the state's regarding of, and conduct towards sectors of its own community. Our culture, they tell the world, is different, and our traditions remain sacrosanct. Examine such traditions carefully, and you discover that all it means is that one sector of society is privileged, in both trivial and profound ways, at the expense of another, a state policy that appropriates an infallible status onto itself.

In the more authoritarian instances, this 'immunity clause' is said to derive from the very scriptures that preach human equality in the sight of God – not for nothing is In the more authoritarian instances, this 'immunity clause' is said to derive from the very scriptures that preach human equality in the sight of God – not for nothing is it said that the devil is adept at quoting the scriptures in his own cause. George Orwell captured this egregious ploy in that memorable formulation of his Animal Farm placed in the mouth of the four-legged ideologue, in defence of the contradictions between precept and practice: all animals are equal, but some are
more equal than others.

Let history be our teacher. The legacies of humanity's mottled past still inform and indeed dominate the present with murderous zeal. The refusal of divergence in human thought lay at the brutal career of the Holy Roman Empire with its diabolical agency of the Inquisition, also of its rival Muslim world, not forgetting the secular complement of both - the atheistic empire of communism. This refusal continues to take its toll till today, especially within the Muslim world where irreconcilable disputes over dogma exact a dealier price, internally, than even against declared infidels and other nominated enemies of God. Forgotten, or more likely simply ignored, is the calm wisdom of the Muslim sage from Mali, Tierno Bokar, known as the Sage of Bandiagara, who preached that Truth is threefold: there is my truth, there is your truth, and there is The Truth. There is of course also the possibility of a fourth, which is that there is No truth, an anarchic condition that leaves the world floundering in a moral void, where even Human Rights become a casualty, yet may be considered preferable to the conduct of the fanatical, absolutist truth enforcers of our times. Despite such mutations, nonetheless, the quest for an Ultimate, Inviolable truth, undertaken peacefully, tolerantly and with the consciousness of human fallibility guarantees, at the very least, an enrichment of the world intellectually, creatively, culturally, and materially. The alternative route is responsible for what we witness today - mind-closure, material and human destructiveness, the impoverishment of discourse, and a retreat from true enlightenment. That right to seek enlightenment is the foundation of every universal human right.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prospects for Economic Growth in Nigeria – A Demographic Perspective

Please find below the report of The Next Generation Nigeria Task Force commissioned by the British Council Nigeria the task force has looked at the country's development prospects through a demographic lens.I felt it was something we all should see,so we can start working on persuading the powers that be to actualize the recommendations the report since it is in our best interest as Nigerians and for our country. 

Nigeria – The Next Generation

The Next Generation Nigeria Task Force is commissioned by the British Council Nigeria. The Task Force is an independent body and the British Council does not necessarily agree with or endorse the views expressed within its reports.

All Task Force members serve in an independent capacity and not as representatives of any organisation.

The Task Force is chaired by:

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Managing Director of the World Bank

David Bloom*

Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and
Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health

Task Force members are:

Alhaji Lamido Ado Bayero
The Chiroman Kano

Donald Duke
Governor of Cross River State, 1999-2007

Frank Nweke
Director General, Nigeria Economic Summit Group

Lord Triesman
Former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for Africa

Pat Utomi
Director of The Centre For Applied Economics at Lagos Business

Maryam Uwais
Principal Partner, Wali Uwais & Co

Overview/Key Findings

Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in its history. By 2030, it will be one of the few countries in the world that has young workers in plentiful supply. Youth, not oil, will be the country’s most precious resource in the twenty-first century.

Nigeria has been struggling against the demographic tide since independence. Rapid population growth has created a huge strain on the country’s economic, social and political systems. Today, just 1.2 adults care for each of the country’s children and old people.

During the past 30 years, the Nigerian economy has stagnated, in sharp contrast to the fortunes of such natural comparators as Indonesia. The 1990s was a lost decade for Nigeria with per capita GDP falling to below 1980 levels.

 Today, Nigeria’s demographic tide is finally turning, as population growth slows and its ‘baby boom generation’ enters the workforce. By midcentury, depending on how fast family size falls, there could be as much as a whole additional adult to support each child and old person.

Nigeria stands ready to collect a substantial demographic dividend. If it continues with recent positive economic growth, improves health standards, and harnesses a growing workforce, the average Nigerian will be as much as three times richer by 2030 and over 30 million people will be lifted out of poverty.

If Nigeria fails to collect its demographic dividend, the seriousness of the country’s predicament should not be underestimated. Its prospects will be bleak and could be catastrophic.

In the worst case, Nigeria will see: growing numbers of young people, frustrated by a lack of opportunities; increased competition for jobs, land, natural resources, and political patronage; cities that are increasingly unable to cope with the pressures placed on them; ethnic and religious conflict and radicalisation; and a political system that is discredited by its failure to improve lives.

Demography is pushing Nigerian states and regions onto widely different trajectories, and could further increase inequality if measures are not taken to promote social cohesion.

Demographic factors are steadily increasing Nigeria’s risk of conflict. If it fails to respond appropriately over the next decade, it couldwell face a demographic disaster.

Nigeria is currently poorly positioned to maximise its demographic opportunities, despite marked improvements in the policy environment over the past decade.

At present, health and education standards are low, especially in disadvantaged regions and among the poor. Many young Nigerians are illequipped for life in a modern economy. Young women are especially likely to be excluded from opportunities.

A shortage of jobs is a serious challenge, with young Nigerians taking many years to become productive contributors to society. A Nigerian only produces more than he or she consumes for an average of 30 years of their life, compared to 34 years in Indonesia, 35 years in India, and 37 years in China.

Nigeria urgently needs to develop a thorough action plan for its next generation. At present, policymakers have too little robust data on the country’s future challenges. In effect, they are running the country blind. Better evidence is needed to inform more far-sighted policies.

Investment in people must be substantially boosted. The government should set targets for increasing expenditure on education and health, using oil revenues to fund both infrastructure and recurrent spending, while ensuring that existing funds are spent more efficiently.

For education, the priorities are to develop skills that lead to employment, through expansion of vocational training, and to tackle the gross inequalities in educational provision that threaten Nigeria’s integrity as a cohesive society.

In the health sector, rapid improvements are possible, especially by tackling very high levels of child mortality. Regions with low health standards need emergency funding to build effective primary health systems, with a focus on maternal and child health care.

The needs of young families must also be put at the heart of the Nigerian policy agenda. With better health and education, parents will choose to invest more in fewer children, giving them a much better chance of living a prosperous, secure and fulfilled life. Creating pro-family policies must be a priority for the Nigerian government.

Without remedial action, the crisis in the job market will worsen rapidly as growing numbers of young Nigerians enter the workforce. Nigeria needs to create almost 25 million jobs over the next ten years if it is to offer work to new entrants, and halve current unemployment.

Nigeria needs to develop the infrastructure that will underpin a world class economy, spending up to an additional 4% of GDP on this task. It should diversify away from oil, with an emphasis on sectors that will improve employment prospects for young people, while removing obstacles to economic growth and private enterprise.

The oil industry contributes 40% to national GDP, but employs less than 0.15% of the population. Other industries still in their infancy offer greater potential to Nigeria and Nigerians: communications; manufacturing (textiles, clothing and footwear; automobiles); and the mining of resources other than oil.

Nigeria must tap into the energies of the next generation itself, releasing its innovative and entrepreneurial potential, and ensuring that young people have increasing opportunities for political expression. It should also harness the potential of the diaspora, both to provide opportunities for the young; and for new ideas, investments, and contacts of the global Nigerian network.

With the right policies for the next generation, Nigeria’s aspiration to become one of the world’s largest 20 economies is in reach. If Nigeria’s leaders make the wrong choices today, the country will suffer the consequences for many decades to come – and Nigeria’s development breakthrough could be forever lost.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Governor Akala And His Cohorts Milked Oyo State Dry

Culled From : The Street Journal -http://thestreetjournal.org

How Governor Akala And His Cohorts Milked Oyo State Dry
Written by Administrator
Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Otunba Alao-Akala administration in Oyo State has been at the receiving end of criticisms most of which bother on financial issues. While pro Akala elements hail the Oyo State chief executive as the O yato Governor (The Governor with a difference), those not favourably disposed to his ways often say the only different thing about him is his way of embezzling public funds.

The average Oyo State indigene believes that large scale corruption is being perpetrated by the Akala government. It is often said that his government ranks among the most corrupt in Nigeria and that he has little or nothing to offer the average citizen. What is more paramount as a source put it is his “looting program.” Today, the Governor who was said to have misappropriated N 1 billion in his fist eleven months in office is believed to be among the richest men in Oyo State. Though sometime ago, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo was quoted as saying that Governor Akala told him that at the time Senator Ladoja was to be impeached, he (Akala) could not boast of N 100,000 (one hundred thousand Naira) in his account.

The government is said to have a characteristic way of squandering money, especially with the Governor allegedly hosting not less than two parties in a week. ‘That is the extent of His Excellency’s idleness’, a source observed.

Apart from his many parties, the Oyo State Governor is a frequent traveler. He is about the most traveled Governor in this dispensation with not less than 100 trips behind him. Most of those trips are to the United States and England. It was observed in some quarters that in spite of those trips, not a single investment has been facilitated in the state by any foreign investor. Those who know Otunba Alao Akala at very close quarters have revealed that “as a man with a great power of enjoyment, whenever he chooses to enjoy himself, he spares no cost. At times, he goes to functions in the U.S.A and U.K with traditional Yoruba drummers and jesters.”

One of his birthdays was reportedly celebrated lavishly in three different countries; England, Ireland and Canada.
To some others, the Governor’s frivolous spending defies competent description. Not only does he throw lavish parties to celebrate his children’s marriages, his wife and mistresses’ birthdays, the former police officer has embarked on a slapdash purchase of chieftaincy titles. There seems to be no end to the titles- Otun of The Source, Bobagunwa of Owu Kingdom, The Atunluse of Ibarapa and so many more.

Not a few indigenes wonder at the basis of the many unmerited traditional titles the Governor has in his kitty. Or to what does one adduce the magnanimity of the monarchs who confer the titles? If the Governor’s contribution to the town or region is the reason for the conferment, what of the titles from outside Oyo State? Some people even wonder whether some Obas put the feelings of their subjects into consideration before conferring titles on people like the Governor.

Till date, the state cannot satisfactorily account for about N 27 billion that accrued to it from the excess crude oil fund account.It has been alleged that not long after the money was released to the 33 local government areas in the state, Governor Akala formulated a rather cunning way of denying the local governments of their statutory dues by introducing a fraudulent and compulsory 5 kilometer road construction project to all the local government areas in the state. Incidentally, the consultant for the project was no other than Engineer Femi Babalola, the CEO of Pentagon Engineering Limited who said to be one of the Governor’s fronts. Each local government chairman was made to sign a sum of N 250 million towards the job; that of course brings the total figure involved in the scam to N 8.2 billion. The Governor was also said to have ensured that the consultant got 60 % upfront payment as against the normal 15 % mobilization fee required by law.

The contract was said to have been extended to some phony companies, one of which was Banik Engineering Services Limited, a company not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Street Journal’s findings revealed that the looting spree did not just start today; it dates back to the illegal eleven month reign of Otunba Akala as Governor of the Pacesetter state. Way back then, a number of brand new vehicles belonging to the state were sold as scrap for amounts as ridiculously low as N 10,000 (Ten thousand Naira). The beneficiaries of course were top government functionaries. At another time, about 32 brand new cars were reportedly bought in one day and given out to the Governor’s cronies.

In spite of the enormous amount accruing to the state from the federal government, all the state can boast of is are its moribund Water Corporation, a corrupt Ministry of Lands and Housing and a dead Ministry of Works.
A glaring testimony of His Excellency the Governor’s wealth on the other hand lies in the amount of properties he has acquired between the time he served as pro tem Governor and now. He has more than enough to become a realtor after the expiration of his term of office. For instance, a few months after his boss, Senator Ladoja was impeached; Governor Akala allegedly bought a house in Dover, a waterfront highbrow area of London.

Apart from his many properties in Europe, the Governor has properties in choice areas of Ibadan. He reportedly bought over General David Medaiyese Jemibewon’s house in Bodija for the sum of N 200 million. Other properties acquired by the Governor include the Itesiwaju House around the Dugbe –Ogunpa axis which is Ibadan’s main commercial centre. Close sources revealed that Barrister Kunle Isola, son of former Governor Kolapo Olawuyi Isola was one of those who helped the Governor to facilitate the purrchase of the sprawling shopping complex. It is also on good authority that all the occupants of the complex have been issued quit notices. And in Ikoyi, the Governor is alleged to be the proud owner of a house three buildings away from the NDLEA Chairman’s residence.

Ask the average Ibadan indigene what the Government has done so far, you are likely to be told that there is nothing much on ground to show for the existence of this government. Even the much celebrated road projects have come under severe criticism. An example is the Challenge-Molete road which was pothole infested. Particularly notorious was the Idi-Odo roundabout, it had an embarrassing pothole that caused perpetual traffic jams in that area. But on the eve of President Jonathan’s visit to Ibadan, workmen were conspicuously seen around there filling all potholes. It was later discovered that the road received attention just because Mr. President was one of those expected to grace the service marking the Governor’s 60th birthday at the Molete Baptist Church. Residents of the area could not help praying that the President would become a regular visitor to Ibadan so that other things too would receive attention.

Public attention was first drawn to the large scale fraud being perpetrated by Governor Akala and his team when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) released a report on the activities of the Governor. It surprised many to discover that even books could be used to siphon money from the accounts of a state.According to the EFCC report, a contract for the supply of text books to Oyo State Government was awarded to Macmillan Publishers Limited for the sum of N630,614,750 and that the company had already been paid N586,470, 647.50 while a balance of N61,000,000 was still outstanding.

It was also revealed that the contract was highly inflated as investigation revealed that Macmillan Publishers Limited spent only the sum of N98,356,574.76 to execute the contract.

Macmillan inflated the contract to the tune of N488,114,073.50 and had already refunded the sum of N10,000,000 to the Oyo State Government.

It was also revealed that a contract for the supply of text books to Oyo State was awarded to Evans Brothers Publishers for the sum of N630,000,000 and that N504,292,602 had already been paid.

Evans Brothers Publishers expended the sum of N108,141,026 to execute the entire contract.

Evans Brothers Publishers inflated the contract by the sum of N396,151,185 and had already refunded the sum of N12,000,000

A contract to supply the Oyo State Government with text books was also awarded to Longman Nigeria Plc for the sum of N39,724,300 and the sum of N29,000,000 was paid.

Governor Alao-Akala also released the total sum of N190,000,000 to 19 lawmakers of the State House of Assembly for Constituency Projects though the Government checks were issued in their individual names.

To those who know the way things run in the Akala government, it is not surprising that contractors inflate contract sums. It has been alleged that His Excellency, the Governor is said to be an apostle of giving unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar. It has been alleged that no booty passes him by as his share in every contract is 20%. A source also pointed it out that ‘the reason for the looting cannot be divorced from the 2011 elections’. Speaking further, the source explained that “the calculation is that Baba Adedibu who used to do most of the politicking for the Governor is no more. But with the economic power at his disposal, he feels he can buy his way through to his reelection.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is Nigeria Broke Or Is She Iminently in Danger of Being Broke?

Africa viewpoint: Spendthrift nation

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Sola Odunfa considers money matters.
It appears Nigeria is entering would could be called a period of insolvencies.
That may surprise you, coming so soon after all the talk of multi-billion dollar budgets and junkets "to cheer up the boys" for the now-ended football World Cup in South Africa.
Many Nigerians cannot understand this new vocabulary of insolvency because they still swear by the gospel, preached in the 1970s by the then military head of state General Yakubu Gowon, that Nigeria's problem was not money but how to spend it.
The first government entity to be hit by this financial crisis was the national petroleum corporation, which manages the country's 2m barrels a day crude oil production.
Even at a depressed $50 a barrel in very bad times, the corporation would net a handsome $50m (about £31.7m) every day of the year.
You may then understand the shock when a junior minister said last month that the corporation was flat broke.
My friend, it was no joking matter.
Within hours of his comments, Nigerians were asking, where has all the money gone?
Blue or red ink?
The nation may be ranked among the most corrupt by its detractors - and they are many - but siphoning all that money would be beyond even Satan.
The Federal Executive Council wasted no time giving the answer everybody wanted to hear: The petroleum corporation was far from being broke - its accounts were entered in indigo blue!
Then, billionaire industrialist Aliko Dangote petitioned the government over alleged mismanagement at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, suggesting that it was heavily in the red and investors' funds were being meddled with.
The exchange promptly issued a statement giving a picture of robust health
But Mr Dangote was not just another member of the exchange - he was president of its council and his word therefore could not be dismissed lightly.
The Securities and Exchange Commission responded by launching an investigation into the affairs of the stock exchange but it also sacked Mr Dangote, his council, and the chief executive of the exchange last week.
Yet the biggest worry is that the government itself could become broke because of the uncontrollable greed of the legislature.
This concern has been raised by none other than former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr Obasanjo says the legislators have become a financial burden on the nation's lean purse.
He is worried about something many of us have been bothered about for many years, that is, how much it costs to maintain each member of Nigeria's Senate and House of Representative.
Like most Nigerians, the ex-president can only guess.
He says he believes it is about $1.7m a year per senator. A representative takes slightly less.
There are 109 senators and 360 representatives in the National Assembly.
The bulk of the money they take is described as "constituency allowance", a payment received by each legislator to maintain a constituency office and to launch an economic or infrastructure development programme.
The outrage is that this and other allowances are determined by the legislators themselves and paid in bulk by the government into the coffers of the legislature for disbursement to individuals.
There is no independent audit of this expenditure.
Law professor Itse Sagay says Nigerian politicians are among the highest-paid in the world.
A columnist in the Lagos newspaper The Punch calculates that, "more than 70% of national income now goes into paying salaries and allowances of political office holders".
The legislators, irrespective of parties, seem to have become vampires on the nation's democracy, and there is little or nothing Nigerians can do about it.
The constitution allows legislators to do what they are doing and only they can amend the document, unless, of course, as the frustrated lawyer, Ben Nwabueze, pointed out last month, some revolutionaries emerge to clean up the system forcefully.
Now, you may need to think twice before condemning impoverished illiterate voters who demand money for their ballot when electioneering campaigns begin later this year.
Their votes may be irrelevant to the results.
If you would like to comment on Sola's latest column, please use the postform. A selection of views will be published below.