Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday lashed out at the National Assembly and state houses of assembly as institutions filled with “rogues and armed robbers”, in a remark that is bound to rekindle the backlash that trailed a similar outburst once made by the ex- president.
The former president spoke in Lagos at the Fourth annual conference of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies; an event also attended by two former heads of state, Yakubu Gowon and Ernest Shonekan.
Speakers, including host Governor Babatunde Fashola and retired Chief Justice of the federation, Muhammed Uwais, discussed building strong structures and system for the nation bedeviled by the twin ills of corruption and inefficiency.
Mr. Obasanjo pointed out three institutions – the legislature, judiciary and the police – as the nation’s most corrupt, but the lawmaking-making arm drew much of his condemnation.
“Integrity is necessary for all systems and institutions to be strong. Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the state houses of assembly and the national assembly. What sort of laws will they make?” he asked.
The former president’s reference to the lawmakers as corrupt in 2010 sparked anger from the legislators who passed resolutions condemning the remarks.
Mr. Obasanjo himself has been repeatedly accused of leading a selective anti-corruption fight during his eight–year term, targeting political opponents and protecting cronies. He has denied the allegation.
The charge peaked with the allegation that he passed billions of naira in Ghana-must-go bags to federal lawmakers in attempt to secure their support for a failed tenure elongation.
Former senate president, Ken Nnamani, who was in charge during the episode, confirmed the exchange of cash in a recent interview after Mr. Obasanjo had earlier in a television interview denied ever seeking tenure extension.
At the conference, the former president also spoke of a huge scale of corruption in the judiciary, a position supported by former Chief Justice, Mr. Uwais.
“The judiciary is also corrupt,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “During my tenure, many of the corrupt judges were removed, some are still there.
“If the judiciary becomes corrupt, where is the hope for Nigeria? Justice no doubt will go to the highest bidder. The judiciary did not see anything wrong with a former governor but the same set of evidence was used to convict him in the UK.”
That position was shared by Mr. Uwais who agreed corruption had long permeated the nation’s judiciary. “Without a strong judiciary, even if you have a strong economy, the economy will find it difficult to grow.
On corruption in the police, Mr. Obasanjo said: “The police are even the worst. Well I will not lament; I will only say “Let us understand our problem and emphasize the good ones.