CORRUPTION OBJ, LAWMAKERS AND DIRTY LINENS
He is at it again. That is his usual. That is how he chooses to live his life. And you dare not take that from him. The grandmaster himself.
Yes! Last week, he came around. And did what he ultimately knows how to do best. He's stubbornly known to stirring the hornest's net. He is quite at home at firing the first salvos. That is neither strange nor absurd. After all, he is a General. Though terribly worn out and retired, but not at all near tiredness. Very awkward, he is inactively active.
He chooses his target indiscreetly. Regardless whose ox is gored. Almost carelessly. He does not care a hoot. He leaves his prey to groan and moan in great pains.
Ex-president Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo is always forthcoming. He nearly does not give no for an answer. Give it to him, he is strong-willed. He is blunt and very daring. He's hard and iron-willed. He pours out with conviction. Whatever he believes in, he holds on to it doggedly. He says it as it is without looking back. He is detested and abhorred for his uncommon guts.
He has forced himself on us. And has become an irritating and vexing issue. That is why he incurred the wrath of the legislature the other day. He could not hold back his vexations. He had watched from a very vintage point. He has all the insight into the issue. For the eight turbulent years he held sway. He had seen more than his eyes could see. He was utterly pissed off. He had kept quite for so long a time. This time, he must talk. And he did, loud and clear. He is not used to mincing words.
He carefully chose his battlefield. He made sure it was in Minna, Niger State. Far away from his Ogun home state. He was very tactical. What else do you expect from a proven General of many wars?
It was at the very doorstep of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB). There and then, he painted the National Assembly black. He hit hard at them. From his vast experience, he told us, members have become a burden to the nation's lean purse. He looked at his records. What he discovered was repulsive, sickening, nauseating and stomach-churning. It was difficult for him to know how much precisely a senator takes home yearly. All in the deceitful name of constituency projects.
Obasanjo cried: 'Nobody knows in detail, how much it costs us to maintain a senator.' His guess: 'I believe it is more than N250 million…'
As a matter of fact, Senate President takes home N1 billion 'allocation' (whatever that means) every year. At N250 million a quarter. This 'allocation' has nothing to do with other 'perks' of office. That is why Obasanjo is pained. And he was compelled to make more startling revelations: 'They came up and say something is constituency project. What is constituency project? 'They insert it in the budget. They would find the contractor, and the contractor would work for them, that is constituency project? They then accuse some people of corruption. Who is not corrupt?'
He became even more down-to-earth. He was speaking with facts and figures. He has them abundantly at the back of his hand: 'They pass budget that cannot be implemented.' Why? … 'Because it has to be beefed up to satisfy their whims and caprices. Even what the ministries did not ask for, they put it.'
Pity! See what Baba silently went through for eight odd years. We now have a better understanding. Why he never implemented any of his eight budgets up to 50 per cent. That could be frustrating and disappointing.
From their jittery reactions, the legislators were clearly caught unawares. They least expected that kind of deadly salvo from Obasanjo. It really sank them.
They could not immediately find their soiled feet. They knew they could not fault Baba. They realized he was talking from a firm position of authority.
They woefully failed to address the contentious issues raised. They wisely chose not to contest and/or contend with him. They opted to admit corruption. But they went a step further. They thoroughly abused him.
They simply launched into unending tirade. They took him up on all fronts. They were determinedly ferocious about their 'lame' defence.
House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ali Ndume, was more forthcoming: 'Obasanjo is our father, and grandfather in corruption. I cannot sit here and tell you that we are not corrupt.' That's wholesome admission. A radical departure from the era of denial and deceit: 'Obasanjo was correct to say that we insert constituency projects in the budget and that we decide who the contractors would be.'
Ndume became more aggressive. He went for Obasanjo's jugular. He paid him back in his own dirty corns: 'But was it not Obasanjo that bribed every member of the House in 2006 with N50 million each to support his failed Third Term agenda?' More blows: '… Find out what was the asset and bank account of Obasanjo before he became President in 1999. Then go and check his bank account now, and his asset…' Ndume then widened the scope: 'Obasanjo should have said that politicians are corrupt, not only the National Assembly.' His reason: '… he is the father and grandfather of corruption in Nigeria.' True or false?
We are glad the two feuding parties are saying nothing but the gospel truth. Very absolute. They had both experienced it. Collectively or individually. In fact, they are still neck-deep in it. It appears they are now stranded. That is why they are trading blames. That is why they are shamelessly passing the filthy buck.
Obasanjo incurred the legislators' fiery wrath when he decided not to keep quite any more. That is his greatest undoing. He practically stripped the arrogant legislators naked. And in the market place for that matter.
Nobody has ever done it better than this. He has the privileged audacity to do it without losing his sleep. He deserves kudos for his effort. Even if belated.
Better late than never.