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Obasanjo’s Attack Against National Assembly Unfortunate -Abaribe

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

The Senate has described allegations of corruption levelled against the National Assembly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as unfortunate and a deliberate attempt to denigrate the National Assembly.

Nigeria's senate in sessionThe former President had on Wednesday described the National Assembly as peopled by rogues, thieves among other not too decent phrases use by him.

But in a statement by Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the senate said it was unfortunate that the former President would distort the issue of constituency projects as meaning a direct monetary advance to lawmakers and thus amounting to the “promotion of corruption” by the National Assembly.

Abaribe said the most unfortunate in the deliberate diatribe against the National Assembly, was President Obasanjo’s allegation that the lawmakers are “siphoning public funds through what they call ‘constituency projects’.

The allegation as spurious as it were he said, is very distant from the truth and is nowhere near reality adding that if it were so, the former President would not have tolerated such for the period he was the President of the country.

“President Obasanjo for the avoidance of doubt, was the initiator of the constituency project in the year 2000 as a means of ensuring that projects were fairly spread across the country using the Senatorial zones as the spring board.

“To ensure execution of the projects, President Obasanjo again factored the constituency projects into the annual budgets to be implemented by the executive depending on availability of funds. That is to say that no lawmaker ever comes close to the funds or even determine the contractor for the said projects or when the said contract would be awarded.

“So, it looks curious and surprising that President Obasanjo would turn around after over ten years of initiating such a project to allege that the National Assembly is performing the function of both the executive and the parliament.

“Is it not preposterous for anybody to believe that members of the National Assembly would against the provisions of the constitution with regards to application of separation of powers, award contracts ‘to their agents to execute’ and expect the Presidency under a President Obasanjo or any other President for that matter to pay for what they are not part of?

“Such allegation stands logic on its head, as it amounts to an indictment of the Presidency for wilfully contravening the budget laws by ceding its power to execute to the National Assembly, if it was the case”, said Abaribe.

The senate according to Abaribe therefore, challenges the former President to go a step further to furnish Nigerians with details of how the National Assembly members became executors of national budget rather than being law makers.

“It will also help to clear the allegation once and for all, if any presidency official not only from the time past but currently, could come forward and explain the true position of the so called constituency projects. Doing so would at least set the records straight”, he said.

Accordingly, the senate said Abaribe, cautions political leaders to be wary of the consequences to our democracy of dragging the revered institution of lawmaking to public odium just to score some political point.

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