Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday railed against unbridled corruption that allegedly pervades the National Assembly, calling on President Buhari to step in.
The former leader said the nation’s top lawmaking body missed an opportunity to reform itself when it ‘ganged up’ against a whistleblowing lawmaker.
“If the Judiciary is being cleaned, what of the National Assembly which stinks much worse than the Judiciary?” Mr. Obasanjo queried.
Mr. Obasanjo, who led Nigeria twice from 1976-1979 and again from 1999-2007, said the lawmakers have become ruthless and shameless about their behaviour, a condemnable act he said Nigerians should no longer tolerate.
“They are blatant in their misbehaviour, cavalier in their misconduct and arrogant in the misuse of parliamentary immunity as a shield against reprisals for their irresponsible acts of malfeasance and/or outright banditry,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “We should not continue to live with the impunity and corruption of the National Assembly.”
The attack was part of a speech he delivered at a forum in Lagos on Wednesday afternoon, during which he chafed the Nigerian parliament as “a den of corruption” controlled by “a gang of unarmed robbers.”
“These constituency projects are spread over the budget for members of the National Assembly for which they are the initiators and the contractors directly or by proxy and money would be fully drawn with the project only partially executed or not executed at all,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
During his administration, he said lawmakers frustrated his efforts to open up the budgetary process of the parliament to make it more efficient and less corrupt.
“Look at how re-current budget of the National Assembly with the so-called constituency projects has ballooned since the inception of this democratic dispensation.
“What were their budgets in the 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015? The revelation was both alarming and scandalous. Once, when I was President, I asked outside auditors, both normal and forensic, to audit the account of the National Assembly, they frustrated it on the basis of separation of power.
“They claimed they had oversight responsibility for their corruption and misdemeanour and nothing can be done. It is like asking a thief to watch over himself,” Mr. Obasanjo said.