Budget Padding: Obasanjo backs Jibrin, urges Buhari to crack down on National Assembly ‘robbers’

Dogara Femii-Recovered

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.”

Olusegun Obasanjo Photo: Atom Lim
Olusegun Obasanjo
Photo: Atom Lim

The blistering 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.”

House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, told PREMIUM TIMES he didn’t immediately have a response for Mr. Obasanjo’s attacks, which were delivered with a devastating gusto.

In his speech, Mr. Obasanjo took serious issues with the constituency projects proposed annually by lawmakers.

Mr. Obasanjo joined other critics who have perennially rubbished the purpose of the projects as a conduit for channelling public funds into the pockets of individual lawmakers.

“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.

The former president implored Mr. Buhari to investigate all financial transactions conducted under the intervention programs in recent years.

An audit of these projects, which constitute a huge drain of taxpayers’ money, will uncover incontrovertible evidence of corruption to nail a good number of legislators, Mr. Obasanjo said.

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

“The president should ride on the crest of the popularity of what is happening in the judiciary to set up a highly technical team of incorruptible investigators to look into the so-called constituency projects of the past and the present and bring culprits to book.”

The former president also queued behind suspended lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin, in his unfolding confrontation with the leadership of the House.

Mr. Obasanjo said it was wrong for lawmakers to gang up against Mr. Jibrin for being the lone voice against alleged sharp practices in the House.

Mr. Jibrin was suspended on September 28 for ethical misconduct, two months after he accused the leadership of the House led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara of corruption.

There has been no love lost between Mr. Obasanjo and the National Assembly for several years.

The latest attack came two years after the former leader came down hard on the lawmakers, describing the parliament as an assemblage of looters.

In January 2016, he wrote a letter to Mr. Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki, accusing them and their colleagues of profligacy and lawlessness amidst a scorching economic crisis.

An attack he directed at the legislature in June was immediately rebuffed by lawmakers who said he was picking on them for rejecting heavy bribes he allegedly offered them to procure a third-term in office.


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  • FreeNigeria

    They ganged up against the whistle-blower because they are all thieves. Baba Iyabo, you contributed to their waywardness when you introduced money bags into NASS. When you turned our election process to selection process. You sowed bad democrazy for Nigeria, now you want to reap good democracy. na Miracle? Go back to Otta and enjoy your loot, Baba thief

    • Pat

      You will never hear/see the real thieves making such comments Obasanjo is making against corruptions. After all, he is not the only former president/head of states living.

      • tuby NY

        Intelligent observation bro and WELL written! OBJ is a REAR gem among his pairs in this country and history would surely be on his side when it’s ALL SAID and DONE.. especially with his timely public outcry for the TRUTH states of things/situations.

        • Sani Saleh

          The correct words are RARE instead of REAR, and PEERS instead of PAIRS, sir. Also TRUE STATE of things instead of TRUTH states of things.

  • Shahokaya

    We should take the massage but at the same time not forgetting the fact that Obasanjo the massenger was the first to introduce corruption in NASS. Recall how he in 2001 gave out 100,000 Naira to each member willing to impeach Naabba as Speaker. His the SA Esther Udehi went to court to stop the house from investigating the bribery. Recall also that it was Obasanjo that in 2004 , in his dream for third term that okayed the controversial constituency projects. An audit of all the projects should be undertaken so that we can know how much each member has taken .

    • Korede

      Hello, thanks for your comments,remenber yesterday has gone and that was when our economy is better. The assembly of looters we have now are shameless. Only Buhari that people are condeming can help us clean the mess with these looters .it is a pain when you see how reckless those thieves are. We don’t blame them, cause their hands are full of innocent blood. God bless Nigeria.

  • Edward Osadebay

    I am very ashame for the people who attack President Obasanjo anytime he talks about corruption. Baba had never shy away from commenting on issues especially corruption and he has been accused himself but nobody has able to bring any evidence of corruption against him. Can’t people dig out anything at all. The man knows nobody can because they have nothing on him, so baba is emboldened to talk about everybody. High time, President Buhari took the bull on the horn and insist on exhaustive investigation of issues brought about Jibrin against this present House of Representatives. He is kept quiet enough.

  • Kamalu

    Love him or hate him, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo remains an enigma on our political scene. He rails and fires the cylinders with some amazing candour. With high respects to you sir on the knotty issue of legislative misdemeanours.

    • zygote

      I totally agree with you, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo remains an enigma on our political scene and an enigma in the proliferation of corrupt practices in Nigeria.

  • The Optimist

    I love OBJ! This is the kind of patriotic, courageous and mind-baring citizen Nigeria earns for. It’s glaringly true that the National Assembly is actually an ASSEMBLAGE OF LOOTERS. It is a big shame that the Nigerian parliament is A DEN OF CORRUPTION. Robbers are ROBBERS, armed or not: A bunch of morally malfunctioning CROOKS! Buhari should URGENTLY implement obasanjo’s wise prescription. May be Jerry Gana should be recruited temporarily to mobilize NIGERIANS. Lie Mohammed is not up to it.

  • Angry Niaja

    Love him or hate hum, baba has spoken the truth, the only reason he can do this all the time is because they have nothing against him, Where are the likes of David Mark, since he rigged his way back into the Senate after his 8 years as Senate President, he has gone deaf and dumb. Most of our legislooters are thieves, vagabonds and everything bad. They do not deserve one kobo of their over bloated salaries. I know someone who deligigently served the country for 35 years and is now retired, his monthly pension is 150,000 naira, yet these bunch of thieves who n=rig themselves into the office, not only receive outrageous salaries, but retire with millions as well as collecting pension for life. Where is the fairness in all this, Why are we not angry and do nsomething about this. Recently a group of patriot Nigerians had a demonstration, but sadly it was not well attended by us all. WHY NIGERIANS, WHY do we sit idly by and let these people rake us to the cleaners. The sad thing is that they are able to pay a pittance of 5,000 to our youth to carry placards to support them, what a shame

  • musa aliero

    tho i hate the messenger because he is also guilty of corruption in epic proportions, the message he brought is a well articulated point. we need other men of god fearing stance to stand up and echo the same message so that it continues to resonate till it jolts up a revolution.

  • sammyctu ode

    We still have many ex heads of states and presidents alive keeping quiet on national important issues cos they earn fat N25M emoluments monthly and cos they don’t care for Nigerians. Go won is always calling for prayers while at thesame time looting Nigeria backdoor. OBJ is the only voice doing the right thing and I salute him for his courage. Yes we have an NA that is populated with cultists, real armed robbers, Evil doers, those who have drank human bloods to get there and people who are so daft to change. The idiots feel they have conquered Nigerians but a time will come when God will tell them they are nothing. How can each senator and legislooters can be earning N15M and N10M monthly respectively when millions of Nigerians are below the poverty level? It’s time for Nigerians especially the terrorists of ND to start kidnapping them instead of innocent law abiding Nigerians. We have labor unions that have been compromised cos it’s their responsibility to lead Nigerians to PERMANENTLY OCCUPY THE USELESS NA.