By Fai Cassian Ndi (The Eye)
The fear that MPs may stage a boycott at the Cameroon National Assembly looms large. According information filtering into our newsroom an atmosphere of uncertainty and suspicion looms over the fate of House Speaker who is being accused of financial mismanagement by his colleagues. A Presidential insider however hinted that President Biya is on the alert over the financial scandal tearing the Cameroon National Assembly apart. An authoritative voice also hinted this reporter that Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril is on a hot seat given that allegations of financial mismanagement have been denounced by backbenchers at the National Assembly. One of the MPs names withheld hinted that the vagueness in the financial management by the President of the National Assembly and his Bureau is however a disastrous one. According to the hint it is alleged that government allocated 500 million FCFA for MPs to maintain their cars during this period that their mandates were extended. Yet the Bureau of the National Assembly allocated a total of 47.1 million FCFA to 157 MPs. The MPs are aghast that 23 MPs who make up the Bureau chopped 453 million FCFA with the blessings of House Speaker Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril. The Eye is aware that tracts were circulated at the National Assembly denouncing the obnoxious mismanagement act by the 23 members of the Bureau.
Classified sources hinted that MPs non-members of the Bureau are threatening to boycott the session if the situation is not redressed. Another source hinted that elements of the judicial police were spotted at the National Assembly yesterday yet the outcome of the investigation has not been made public. More so, the MPs are also raising hell on the lateness of the micro project money. Besides, it is even alleged that some of them have not yet received their salaries.
It is even alleged that the police were acting on instructions from the head of state that is bent to uncover the truth. “We are very angry right now, and we are asking that for justice” one MP told this reporter on phone. It should be recalled that some years ago, MPs staged a silent demonstration on the controversy surrounding the condition of car loan. It is alleged that in the past, backbenchers used to pay back car loans whereas members of the Bureau did not. The injustice resulted to an uprising within the house and the matter was settled to the benefit of all. Since then, car loans are non-reimbursable to all the MPs. In fact our MPs have been behaving like the ugly bird, Eagle.
It is widely acknowledged that the Eagle is the only bird in the bird kingdom that sheds tears! It does this only when it’s renewing its youth on rocky hidden altar somewhere on mountains! Our Parliamentarians are like the Eagle because they only shed tears when their interest in at risk. If the Cameroon National Assembly has been tagged a rubber stamp, it is not by mistake because whenever their interest is protected, they always play the ostrich by staging some dramatized acts infront of TV cameras and journalists. When a proposal was made for the extension of their mandates for six months they all applauded. When proposals were made for them to pay a deposit fee of FCFA 5 million, they took Cameroonians as witnesses that government wants to sell the country to conmen. And for their interest, they all stood against the proposed article that once an MP is dismissed from the party, he or she should automatically give up the seat at the National Assembly. Whenever they smile anything that could juxtapose their interest, they sometimes make a lot of noise but when they are fine, there is silence.
Concerning the bill on electoral code they only fought to make sure their own interest was protected. Their interest according to what we gathered is centered on money and how much enters their pockets. It is even alleged every MP that voted for or against the Electoral Code received at least FCFA 5 million while Members of the Bureau had between FCFA 10 million and FCFA 30 million for the speaker. While Cameroonians have been wondering whether their MPs too cannot fight as it is being done in other places, sources linked to the National Assembly has hinted that such a scenario can never take place because the MPs have been spoiled by huge salaries and advantages that the public is not aware of.
How Government has Spoiled MPs
With FCFA 8 million non-refundable car loans and a sitting allowance of 1.2 million per session awarded to each Member of Parliament and an additional FCFA 900,000 to FCFA1.3 million per month as salaries, there is every reason for MPs to think of themselves first before the people they represent. Yet reliable sources say the backbenchers (hand clappers) have a net salary of FCFA 900,000 per month, as too low from FCFA 500.000.
Being a member of the Bureau of the National Assembly is a super job. The advantages numbers and attached to it is a super salary. We also learnt that all MPs however, are not housed in the same boat. Those who were lucky to pick positions into the Bureau including Parliamentary group executives sometimes receive up to double the salary of backbenchers, as well as various advantages, such as a free mansion, drivers, guards, cars, entertainment expenses, telephone, water, petrol vouchers, house-helps (in short seven house helps) etc.
This avalanche of membership benefits according to what we gathered exploded in 2007 with the decision by the National Assembly to increase funding for vehicles and maintenance. Thanks to two Orders signed in September 11, 2007, the speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Djibril Cavaye Yeguie, increased premiums for the purchase of official cars for bureau members. It was, after this text that the President of the National Assembly started allocating a non-refundable car loan to MPs.
Our investigation further revealed that before then, only Bureau members and Group leaders had non-refundable car loan. Thank God, young MPs from the North Region revealed to other backbenchers and a revolt was organized. Like the Eagle, the protest took place in hiding. Note that within 5 years (mandate), the Speaker of the National Assembly gets as much as FCFA 60 million from non-refundable car loan scheme while the 1st Vice president now receives FCFA 50 million non-refundable. The remaining vice Presidents FCFA 45 million each, the Quaestors FCFA 40 million and the secretaries’ FCFA 35 million each. The Secretaries on the other hand also receives FCFA 40 million. Each of these recipients get from the third year of the current legislature two-thirds of the amount for the maintenance of the car purchased. That is fantastic!
Faced with such generosity, they have nothing to protect more than their own interest reasons why those who think that they could one day witness boxing at the national assembly will never live such a scenario. It is to protect these numerous advantages that they hang on party allegiance to mock at Cameroonians or close their eyes to vote bills without looking back at the people who voted them to Parliament. In addition, each MP also receives a sitting allowance of about FCFA 1.2 million for each session. Since there are three sessions each year, MP will receive at least make FCFA 3.6 million per year excluding extraordinary sessions. The amount increases when there are extraordinary sessions. These adjustments have never been given publicity ever since they became effective in 2008, probable because like the Eagle, they keep it secret to reassure the public they deal with their problems.
At the close of the last session, pay vouchers of our MPs are great people. The least the hand clappers received as salary was FCFA 899,000 while the least for Bureau members was FCFA 1,300,000. That is why there is no pressure from MPs on government for salaries of civil servants. Notwithstanding, they also console themselves with the eight million micro project money they receive yearly. During their five years in office they get 40 million each, ostensibly to finance micro-projects for the benefit of people. In truth, these funds, although in principle under control are used as pocket allowances for leisure in beer parlors, snack bars and restaurants. Indeed, no member has ever denied this kitty, even though people complain of not seeing the trace on the ground. “Too little, our needs are enormous,” retorted the elect. The most intriguing thing is that the very MPs are designated to follow up whether the money was used properly. How can you send a thief on another?
“MPs are not there to implement projects, which is the role of the executive. Their role is to monitor budget performance and vote bills” yet the National Assembly of Cameroon is filled with goats in sheep clothing.
Some MPs spend time to go on missions abroad to make money while a majority usually transfer their constituencies to Yaounde once elected.
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