Anger has continued to trail the sarcastic “Let The Poor Breathe joke” by the Godswill Akpabio-led Senate amid the prevailing economic hardship in the country.
Nigerians have been complaining about petrol price hike and its effect on commodities.
Some schools had increased tuition fees while electricity companies had moved to raise tarrif.
On Tuesday, Akpabio, while urging the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the electricity distribution companies to stop their proposed electricity tariff increment, passed a motion in a manner many considered ridiculous.
“The prayer is that, let the poor breathe, and Senator Mustapha has seconded that the poor should breathe. Those who are in support of the additional prayer that the poor should be allowed to breathe, say ‘ayes’ and those who are against say ‘nay,’” Akpabio had said jocularly as echoes of laughter reverberated at plenary.
In response, the senators said, “aye”, to which Akpabio said, “The ayes have it! The poor must be allowed to breathe.”
Reacting on ARISE TV’s Breakfast Programme, The Morning Show, Rufai Oseni, the host, said, “I don’t know what is so funny about a bunch of guys that got 17 billion while others didn’t get anything. And I don’t know what’s funny about a bunch of guys that are constantly fleecing this country with everything they have or this country has to give to them and I don’t know what’s funny about a bunch of guys that just sit up there and big fat salaries that they don’t know how much and they can’t even state how much.
“They collect over N100billion every year to run a bunch of less than 500 guys and they sit and mock the poor people of this country. It’s just reflective of the insensitivity of these bunch of guys. Their fat over bloated pockets with their fat ‘Babaringa’. They laugh at the insensitivity of the pain of Nigeria.”
Prof. Pat Utomi, notable scholar and critic, also expressed his displeasure over the controversial remark.
“I am traumatized by this mocking of the poor by our Senate. In a decent society we should have had resignations by now. I am traumatized by this mocking of the poor by our Senate. In a decent society we should have had resignations by now. To mock the poor is to mock God. I know where Godswill Akpabio was before Obong Victor Attah gave a hand. Better an honest poor than a rich thief politician.
“I wonder what it will take to make people realize that values shape human progress. Sustainable progress is not possible where culture is in collapse and institutions are dysfunctional. Sadly this seems extant in Nigeria. Citizens need to be awakened to where we are.
“To abuse public trust and mock the victims as is becoming a habit of the criminal network of our politicians is to forget how transient power is. All will do well to remember the Judgment of Conscience, the judgment of history, and the Judgement of God. He reigns,” he tweeted.
Tweeting via @yusdgyd1, one Yusuf Dingiyadi, wrote: “They shouldn’t joke about it, because Nigerians are watching them. @oficialGAkpabio must do the needful action through his power. You can banter on issues of imminent importance like suffering.”
@AUmarsafana2917: “This isn’t a joke matter ooh. The masses are suffering and you’re sitting there making a joke of it.”
@Sir_Shehu: “There’s Nothing ironic about this mockery or unnecessary/Insensitive joke made by Akpabio, that seat doesn’t deserve a comedian and not even in this disputable times.”
@XBlackSparrow: “They impoverish you, then go on to make a mockery of your sufferings. You in turn laugh it off, recognizing the Nigerian ability to find the cruise in everything. Amid the regional pockets of unrest, you won’t find a more acute confirmation that we as a people are peaceful.”
@Ibrahymlekan: “This is the highest degree of insensitivity to the plight of downtrodden Nigerians striving to make meaning and living from this economic starvation without a human face.”
@afamsson: “Our political elites are cut away from the reality of Nigeria of today yet we feed them with money from taxpayers, sadly they are enabled by some stomach infrastructure Nigerians. Babylonians in power.”
@comtivist: “Those who think that making a comedy of the suffering in the country is the only way they can perform their legislative duty must be prepared to face the backlash from the people they are suffocating by their inaction. Security agencies should note its security implications.”
@emmanuel_yours: “Nigerians facing hardship due to government’s policy of fuel subsidy removal are being mocked by those awaiting luxury SUV’s purchased with loans.”
@medan_laban: “He has to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians. Using our money to enrich themselves. Pure wickedness”
@isaiah_eda18155: “These men are jokers. They have nothing to do in the chamber other than cracking jocks.”