No men of in­tegrity in N/As­sem­bly – Obasanjo

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Isi­aka Wak­ili, Ismail Mu­dashir & Musa Ab­dul­lahi Kr­ishi

Former Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo has said the Na­tional As­sem­bly is com­posed of leg­is­la­tors who lack in­tegrity, sug­gest­ing that the sit­u­a­tion is be­yond re­demp­tion.

Obasanjo was re­act­ing to al­le­ga­tions and coun­ter­al­le­ga­tions cur­rently trail­ing the pad­ding of the 2016 bud­get in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

He said in­stead of both­er­ing about in­ves­ti­gat­ing the al­le­ga­tions, Nige­ri­ans should “get men and women of in­tegrity in the place.”

He told State House re­porters in Abuja yes­ter­day af­ter a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari that:

“It is not ques­tion of in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we should get men and women of in­tegrity

in the place and the pres­i­dent should be very vig­i­lant. What­ever should not pass, should not pass.”

The former Pres­i­dent had made sim­i­lar crit­i­cism in the past and now he asked if the al­le­ga­tions of bud­get pad­ding were not a con­fir­ma­tion of his pre­vi­ous views that the fed­eral leg­is­la­ture was cor­rupt.

“Well, if you said that I have said it in the past and if there are peo­ple who didn’t be­lieve what I said in the past, then you now say that what has come out con­firms what I said in the past, then, I can say what I said in the past is what I will say now,” he said.

Dur­ing the fourth an­nual con­fer­ence of the Acad­emy for En­tre­pre­neur­ial Stud­ies held in Lagos in 2012, the former Pres­i­dent said the Na­tional As­sem­bly and State Houses of As­sem­bly were filled with “rogues and armed rob­bers.”

Obasanjo, at the event said: “In­tegrity is nec­es­sary for all sys­tems and in­sti­tu­tions to be strong.

“To­day, rogues, armed rob­bers are in the state houses of as­sem­bly and the na­tional as­sem­bly. What sort of laws will they make?”

Only last week, the former chair­man of the House of Reps com­mit­tee on ap­pro­pri­a­tion, Ab­dul­mu­min Jib­rin, ac­cused Speaker Yakubu Dog­ara, his deputy, Yus­suf Sulei­mon La­sun, chief whip, Al­has­san Ado Doguwa, and mi­nor­ity leader, Leo Ogor, of try­ing to force him to insert projects worth about N40 bil­lion to for them in the bud­get.

Jib­rin, who was re­moved on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing months of protests by his col­leagues over his role in the controversy that trailed the bud­get, called for the res­ig­na­tion of the quar­tet over the mat­ter.

“Th­ese mem­bers of the body of prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers were not com­fort­able with my in­de­pen­dent dis­po­si­tion and my re­fusal to cover up their uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion to al­lo­cate to them­selves 40 bil­lion naira out of the 100 bil­lion al­lo­cated to the en­tire Na­tional As­sem­bly.

“The four of them met and took that de­ci­sion. In ad­di­tion to bil­lions of waste­ful projects run­ning over 20 bil­lion they al­lo­cated to their con­stituen­cies. They must come out clean. My in­abil­ity to ad­mit into the bud­get al­most 30 bil­lion per­sonal re­quests from Mr. Speaker and the 3 other prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers also be­came an is­sue,” Jib­rin said.

Speak­ing with re­porters the former leader ex­plained that he vis­ited Pres­i­dent Buhari be­cause he (Obasanjo) had some mes­sages for him.

He said: “Not too long ago, I was in Liberia and Gam­bia, and I have mes­sages th­ese two coun­tries will want me to de­liver to the pres­i­dent. Also, only yes­ter­day (Sun­day), I came back from Sey­chelles Is­land where I at­tended this year’s An­nual Gen­eral meet­ing of Africa Ex­port De­vel­op­ment Bank. And there are as­pects of the pro­ceed­ings that I think I should up­date the pres­i­dent.”

Asked if he en­joyed trav­el­ling to all those coun­tries, he said: “Trav­el­ling is a good education. What you will learn about a coun­try by vis­it­ing that coun­try for two or three days, you won’t learn by read­ing through books.

On whether he in­tended to “slow down”, Obasanjo re­sponded: “May God not al­low you to slow now.” N/As­sem­bly re­acts When con­tacted, the spokesper­son of the Se­nate, Se­na­tor Aliyu Sabi Ab­dul­lahi, de­clined com­ment, say­ing “As you know the Se­nate is on re­cess and I’m just hear­ing the former pres­i­dent’s state­ment from you”.

Re­act­ing, the spokesper­son of House, Ab­du­razak Nam­das said former pres­i­dent Obasanjo suc­ceeded dur­ing his ten­ure be­cause of the sup­port he got from the leg­is­la­ture.

“We don’t want to join is­sues with the elder states­man. He ruled this coun­try with the sup­port of Na­tional As­sem­bly. If he suc­ceeded, that is be­cause the Na­tional As­sem­bly sup­ported him well, and if truly he suc­ceeded, that mem­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly are not what he said they are. But we’ll leave it to Nige­ri­ans to judge, “he said.

Photo: Felix Onig­binde

From left: Chair­man, Nige­ria Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion, Mr. Amaju Pin­nick; FIFA Pres­i­dent Mr. Glanni In­fantino; Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari; Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, FIFA, Ms. Fa­tima Samoura and the Min­is­ter of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung dur­ing the FIFA pres­i­dent’s visit to the Pres­i­den­tial Villa, Abuja yes­ter­day.

Photo: Felix Onig­binde

Former Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo be­ing led to the of­fice of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari dur­ing his visit to the Pres­i­den­tial Villa Abuja yes­ter­day.

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