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 as a rubber stamp, it is not by mistake. It is because whenever their interest is protected, they always play the ostrich by staging some dramatized acts infront of TV cameras and journalists. But when their interest is at risk, they go on bended-knees pleading.
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 at anything that may juxtapose their interest, they sometimes make a lot of noise but when they are fine, there is silence.
The fear that the Bill on the modification of the Constitution may get to the National Assembly may come to null as MPs have been caught in another interest protecting cycle. The Eye is aware that early this week, all the Members of Parliament unanimously signed a letter pleading on the Speaker, Hon. Cavaye Yegue Djibrille to grant them car repairs allowances which is supposed to be half of the FCFA 10.000.000 they received as non-refundable car loan at the beginning of their mandate. They claim that apart from the 23 members of the Bureau who were given brand cars by the National Assembly, majority of bought old cars given that the amount was too small to get a new car.
Classified sources hinted that MPs non-members of the Bureau are threatening to boycott the session if the situation is not redressed. And as observed, they would only threaten when their interest is at stake.
It should be recalled that some years ago, MPs staged a silent demonstration on the controversy surrounding the condition of car loan. In the past, backbenchers used to pay back car loans while 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.
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 say that such a scenario can never take place in Cameroon because the MPs have been spoiled with huge salaries and advantages that the public is not aware of. Here is an extract of the letter to the Speaker: “High Honourable President, we, MPs signatories of this present correspondent, just respectfully with your kindness seek financial allocation for the maintenance of our vehicles. Indeed, the allocation of 10,000,000 FCFA we received in 2014 could only allow us to buy used vehicles of eight-year old or even 10 to 15 years of age. Today, these vehicles are no longer able to serve Members in their multiple missions Hence the need for us to address this concern to you so you can unlock the vehicle maintenance endowment to half of the initial endowment of 2014 “.
How Government has Spoiled MPs
With FCFA 10 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 going on missions abroad to make money while a majority usually transfer their constituencies to Yaounde once elected. They transform selves to contractors overnight.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)