Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday said the ongoing controversy in the national assembly over budget padding has confirmed his earlier position that lawmakers are “armed robbers and rogues.”
The ex-president who spoke to journalists at the presidential villa shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the way out of the corruption mess is to ensure that only men of integrity are elected into the National Assembly.
He said that the fresh revelations from the national assembly will now convince those who did not believe him when he first accused lawmakers of corruption.
Obasanjo had accused lawmakers of corruption, theft, impunity and lawlessness in a January 13 letter addressed to both the senate president, Bukola Saraki, and the House speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
“The lawmakers can return to the path of honour, distinguishness, sensitivity and responsibility. The National Assembly should have the courage to publish its recurrent budgets for the years 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. That is what transparency demands,” Obasanjo had said in his widely circulated letter.
In response to Obasanjo, the senate president said that the national assembly was becoming more transparent, promising to release details of its budget. Saraki has failed to keep to his promise till date.
The House of Representatives dismissed Obasanjo’s letter as a distraction. “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.
However with the ongoing battle between the former chairman of the House committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, and some principal officers of the House led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Obasanjo will be feeling vindicated.
Jibrin has accused Dogara, deputy speaker Lasun, chief whip Ado Dogawa and minority whip Leo Ogor, of corruption, saying they attempted to pad the budget by a whopping sum of N30 billion as well as divert N40 billion out of N100 billion meant for the entire assembly for themselves alone.