Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a letter addressed to the two chambers of the national assembly, accusing them in his usual abrasive tone of lawlessness, greed and corruption. He also condemned the consistent failure of the national assembly to be open and transparent with the Nigerian people about how it spends its resources. He said their actions on finance and budget issues were shrouded in ”opaqueness and absolute lack of transparency and could not be regarded as normal, good and decent practice in a democracy that is supposed to be exemplary.”
Shortly after Obasanjo’s letter dated January 13 became public, the senate president, Bukola Saraki, released a statement, assuring Obasanjo that ”the leadership and membership of the 8th Senate are committed to good governance, transparency, accountability, due process and responsiveness to the economic reality of our nation.” Saraki said reforms are being undertaken by the senate and that this year the budget of the national assembly will be ”laid bare”.
The senate president, wary about antagonising Obasanjo, listed other areas where the senate is working hard to do better, and promised that ”as a former President and a father of the nation that we all hold in high esteem, i intend to reply the letter and outline the actions the Senate is taking to address his concerns.” He concluded by thanking Obasanjo for ”his consistent role in always reminding those of us in government about our responsibilities to the general public and offering timely advise where necessary.”
A different approach was taken by the leadership of the House of Representatives in response to the same letter by the former president. “I think the letter is meant for the fourth or fifth Assembly. It was misdirected,’’ said Abdulrazak Namdas, the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Namdas, who is an APC lawmaker representing Adamawa state, said that even though the House of Representatives has ”tremendous respect for the former president”, it does not want ”to be distracted by letters.”
Namdas said that the lawmakers respected the former president’s right to freedom of expression, but said again that the letter was probably ”not meant for the eighth Assembly because we have queued in with President Muhammadu Buhari.” Unlike Saraki, the House spokesman did not go into details of the steps which the House has taken that showed it had reformed itself.
Meanwhile the House of Representatives has adjourned plenary till Feb. 16, to enable members engage officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on budget defence sessions.