The House of Representatives has taken up former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his allegation on Wednesday that the National Assembly remains a haven of corruption.
Obasanjo had, at a book presentation in Lagos on Wednesday, faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the economy and accused the National Assembly of defrauding Nigerians through its members’ constituency projects.
He said that the lawmakers were criminals, whose major business is budget-padding.
In a swift reaction to Obasanjo’s scathing remarks, the Lower House described Obasanjo as the “grandfather of corruption” in the country and said he was plotting to bring down President Buhari’s administration.
The House said that Obasanjo was the country’s first President to introduce corruption into the National Assembly during his tenure from the inception of his administration.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdurazak Namdas, said that Obasanjo was “acting as lifetime opposition leader”.
He said: “Obasanjo introduced corruption to the National Assembly on the first day in 1999.”
The lawmaker frowned at Obasanjo’s accusation that the House indulged in criminal activities, lampooned constituency projects which he approved as President and also ventured to discuss the budget of the National Assembly which is highly underfunded.
Namdas said: “The House of Representatives would ordinarily not join issues with the former President as he has held an office that deserves respect and reverence. However, because of the material misstatement of facts, outright lies and falsehoods, and mischievous innuendo introduced in his statement, we are left with no option but to correct him.
“We have repeatedly maintained that there was no padding of the 2016 Appropriation Act, which is a legitimate document, passed by the National Assembly, authenticated by the Clerk to the National Assembly as provided in the Authentication Act and assented to by Mr. President. It is most unfortunate that a former President of Chief Obasanjo’s stature would allow himself to be hoodwinked and procured by a renegade member of the House, who embarked on massive propaganda and lies just because he was removed from office.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no crime that was committed by the National Assembly by exercising its constitutional function of appropriation. If Chief Obasanjo has an issue with the execution of the 2016 budget or indeed other Appropriation Acts, he should direct his anger elsewhere.
“He claimed that the National Assembly budget is very high, when by all standards, the National Assembly is grossly underfunded and is hampered from effectively and legitimately carrying out its Constitutionally assigned functions”.
According to him, “No member of the House of Representatives receives N10 million monthly”, adding that the salaries and allowances of members are as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
He explained that the budget of many agencies in the executive branch are higher than the current budget of the National Assembly that is an arm of government, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and others.
Namdas said that Obasanjo is understandably angry with the National Assembly as an institution, having foiled his third-term ambition in office, even after trying to corrupt the members with a bribe of at least N50 million each.
“Lest we forget, the person who introduced corruption to the National Assembly is Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He birthed the 4th Republic National Assembly with corrupt practices from day one; indeed, on the first day of the Republic,” he said.
The House accused Obasanjo of returning to his usual method of bringing down governments.
According to Namdas, Obasanjo brought down Alhaji Shehu Shagari through his criticisms, adding that “he did it to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; he did same to Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, and attempted to bring down the late Gen. Sani Abacha before Abacha imprisoned him for treason; he made frantic efforts to derail the government of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua when he couldn’t use him.
“He supported President Goodluck Jonathan but when he (Jonathan) refused to take dictation, he turned against him. He supported President Buhari, but since he has sensed that Nigeria is having economic difficulties under him, he has pounced to derail his government.”
“The way Chief Obasanjo talks gives the impression that he is a lifetime opposition leader who has never held any office. What did he do about the issues he raised in his eight years as President?” Namdas asked.