Obasanjo Bribed Us With N50M Each â€“ Reps Allege
ABUJA, August 05, (THEWILL) - Opposition parties in the House of Representatives have accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of institutionalizing corruption in the country by offering each of the National Assembly members N50 million in a bid to get tenure extension in 2005 even as they described him as the father of corruption.
Obasanjo had two days ago accused the National Assembly of draining the nation’s scarce resources saying their allowances were not known to Nigerians and they also insert unwholesome items in annual budgets to their benefit.
But Minority Leader of the House, Hon Mohammed Ali Ndume who addressed the press on the activities of the opposition parties in the House in the last legislative year said the former President has no moral justification to accuse the National Assembly of corruption because he was 'the grand father of corruption' as represented by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which he is the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT).
Ndume said although the National Assembly may be corrupt, Obasanjo should not be the one to open up on the issue. "If Obasanjo had said that Nigerians or Nigerian politicians are corrupt, that would have been right but for him to just single out the National Assembly I think he is not being fair. Because even if that is the case, the National Assembly has 80 percent PDP members both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives and Obasanjo is the father and grand-father of PDP. If that is true then it means if the children are corrupt then the father and grandfather, you know what it means. "
According to Ndume, "We all know the level of corruption in this country. Was it not during Obasanjo that corruption started? It was during his eight years rule that corruption moved from a low level to a higher level. It was during his eight years administration that he shared N50 million to each of the members of the House in order to extend his tenure. It was during his tenure that NAFCON, TRANSCORP, NITEL and all others were sold to girlfriends, cronies and others. That was the foundation of corruption in this country".
The minority leader who is also the leader of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) continued saying, "Are we saying that National Assembly is sterile when it comes to corruption? I won’t say that, but if you look at the nation’s budget which he is talking about, padding budgets and giving contracts out, yes, that is true! As a member representing my constituency if the budget comes and there is nothing in my constituency for my people, I will definitely not support that budget without having something for my people, because what will I go back and tell my people?" he asked.
Ndume challenged the former president to avail Nigerians of the details of his bank account when he came out of prison and after his eight years as president. "But if you look at Obasanjo in 1999 when he came out from prison to be president of this country, go and look at his accounts, go and look at his assets and his disposition and then you will get the answer to who is corrupt, whether it’s the National Assembly or the whole country.
"Am not saying there is no corruption, but if you want to address the issue of corruption in this country and you say you choose to start with the National Assembly, so be it. But look at the National budget, N4.6 trillion how much is coming to the National Assembly? How much is going to recurrent expenditure? Only 25 percent of the budget is going for capital that affects more than 150 million Nigerians. That 3 billion which is about 75 percent is targeting only 1 percent of Nigerians. The Presidency, the Judiciary and the various MDA’s, and if you check what the National Assembly is taking out from the budget you won’t say the National Assembly is corrupt."
Ndume who admitted that the National Assembly has not performed up to expectations however defended the allegations of padding budgets by legislators arguing that the failure of the executive arm of government to deliver quality service was responsible for the insertion of projects into the budget by the parliament. "The legislature has not done well in the last three years. We have not performed to the expectations of Nigerians. I don’t want to give any excuse for failure or non performance but the truth of it is that the legislature, just as the government has not lived of performed to the expectations of Nigerians.
"So when he (Obasanjo) is saying that we are inserting constituency projects in the budget it’s true. But that is because of the total failure. If government is not going to build hospitals in your constituency and you need hospitals in your constituency you make sure that in the budget of N4 billion, N30 million at least is made available to build a primary health care centre in your local government. And then it is true that if you have your way you will determine the contractor."
Ndume who also took at swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan whom he submitted has performed ‘abysmally low’ advising him to without delay sign into law the 2010 amended supplementary Bill as passed by the National Assembly. "We are worried that with only four months to the end of the year, President Goodluck Jonathan is yet to assent to the amended 2010 Supplementary Bill as passed by the National Assembly; not to talk of its implementation.
"With the year almost gone, we urge the President to as a matter of urgent national importance to sign the amended budget into law without delay. We want Mr. President to know that no government can thrive or succeed if budgets are not judiciously implemented. Let the president show us the stuff he is made of- failure or success?"
Commenting on the debate over zoning in the PDP, Ndume lamented that President Jonathan has been distracted and as such is not performing. "We are worried that President Jonathan has allowed himself to be distracted by this unnecessary debate thereby leaving issues of state to suffer. We must say without fear or favour that the administration of President Jonathan has performed abysmally low to the disappointment of majority of Nigerians who had high expectations about him considering the circumstances under which he emerged as President".
The minority leader also accused the president of hobnobbing with sycophants. "We are surprised that instead of striving to initiate efforts to solve some of the pertinent and pressing problems particularly in the power sector where he doubles as the minister, the President has failed to make any impact in the area. Rather, he has surrounded himself with a hoard of sycophants and ‘failed politicians’ who have hijacked the smooth running of government business.
"These self-styled statesmen and leaders, (mostly failed politicians) are preoccupied with fanning embers of disunity and setting agenda for the next general elections with the intent of playing godfathers; whereas there is nothing on ground to show Nigerians that this government could be trusted.
"We call on President Jonathan to concentrate and excel in his present job as a sitting president instead of seeking to be a presidential candidate in the next election when he is yet to deliver on the subsisting mandate. We urge the President to deploy his time and energy to the issues of state and avoid playing to the gallery and globe trotting", he stated.
He said the minorities were in support of INEC under the chairmanship of Prof. Attahiru Jega and urged the president to release the N74 billion requested for by the commission to conduct fresh voter register. "We are in total support of every genuine effort towards achieving free, fair and credible election in 2011. We salute the courage and wisdom of President Jonathan in appointing a credible Nigerian, Prof. Attahiru Jega as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This, to us is just one of the numerous steps aimed at restoring sanity in the nation’s electoral process.
Ndume expressed worry at the deteriorating security situation in the country saying, "We are particularly worried at the increasing rate of armed robbery in the country from 1999 when PDP came to power till date. Organized armed robbery has been elevated to an unprecedented level leaving armed robbers as kings of the moment. This is unacceptable and we want President Jonathan to live up to his billings as president and stem the spread of armed robbery across the country.
"We challenge the President to demonstrate that he has the capacity to secure lives and property as well as create an enabling environment for the peaceful co-existence of Nigerians. As far as we are concerned, this government has failed in providing security for the citizenry. We are surprised that many weeks after four journalists were abducted and later released by the abductors; the police have failed to apprehend the perpetrators of that action. We call on the Inspector General of Police and other security agencies to step up their fight against crime and ensure the protection of lives and property in the country."