The House of Representatives on Thursday clapped back at former President Olusegun Obasanjo by describing him as the grandfather of corruption in Nigeria.
It comes a day after the 79-year-old attacked members of the National Assembly over their salaries/allowances, diversion of constituency allowances and budget padding among others.
Speaking at the First Akintola Williams Annual Lecture in Lagos on Wednesday, Obasanjo had hit out President Muhammadu Buhari for repeatedly accusing past administrations of bad governance.
For the lawmakers, he said: “Once you are a member, you are co-opted and your mouth is stuffed with rottenness and corruption that you cannot opt out as you go home with not less than N15million in a month for a senator and N10m a month for a member of the House of Representatives. The National Assembly is a den of corruption by a gang of unarmed robbers.”
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, spokesman of House of Representatives, Abdulrazaq Namdas, reeled out how Obasanjo’s alleged corrupt credentials, saying “Unquestionably, he is the greatest corrupt person ever to hold office in Nigeria.”
Obasanjo, he said, holds a grudge against lawmakers over his failed third term bid.
Read the statement reads in full
“Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo at a lecture he delivered recently, wherein, in his characteristic manner accused everybody but himself of corruption.
“If Chief Obasanjo has an issue with the execution of the 2016 Budget or indeed other Appropriation Acts, he should direct his anger elsewhere.
“He claimed that the National Assembly Budget is very high, when by all standards, the National Assembly is grossly underfunded and is hampered from effectively and legitimately carrying out its constitutionally assigned functions.
“The National Assembly Budget funds a bureaucracy of about 5,000 civil servants. It has some other agencies under its preview such as the National Assembly Service Commission with its own staff of about 500, even the Public Complaints Commission is now a parastatal of the National Assembly. National Assembly Budget also funds the National Institute for Legislative Studies, which is a legislative think-tank and highly rated academic institution that serves both National and State Houses of Assembly and even international legislators.
“All these agencies also have their capital budget including development of their headquarters, procurement of office equipment, procurement of regular items for running their offices; the National Assembly maintain legislative aides of about 3,000 in number, that aid the work of the Assembly; it also conducts regular public hearings involving the media and stakeholders and oversight activities, involving huge sums of money. “The cost implication of running the National Assembly is high because of the nature of our Presidential democracy.
“Then of course, there are 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, that require proper equipment to function effectively. They require adequate travel and transport support to carry out legislative functions. The National Assembly also has buildings and offices to build and maintain. “National Assembly staff and members attend conferences, trainings, seminars to keep abreast of legislative developments worldwide. The activities are very encompassing and expensive.
“It is also unbecoming of a former President to quote figures of sums of money that are factually incorrect. No member of the House of Representatives receives N10m every month. The salaries and allowances of members of the House are as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). Obasanjo of course further sums of money are spent as running costs, that is, the cost of running the office of a member. If a Minister, Chief Executive or Director in a Ministry travels on official duties, for instance, do you include the cost of his ticket and accommodation as part of his salary or allowances? Does the cost of stationery and maintenance of equipment like computers used in their offices, form part of their salaries and allowances? These are some of the costs that must be taken care of by the National Assembly and the media calls these costs ‘jumbo pay’.
“For goodness sake, the National Assembly is an arm of government, not just an ordinary agency of government. The Budget of many agencies in the Executive Branch is indeed higher than the current Budget of the National Assembly that is an arm of government. Examples abound, CBN, NNPC, NCC etc. Allowances paid to even junior staff of some of these government agencies cannot be compared to what members of National Assembly enjoy.
“Undoubtedly, the former President Obasanjo is understandably angry with the National Assembly as an institution having foiled his ambition for a third-term in office even after trying to corrupt the members with a bribe of at least N50m each.”