*He introduced bribery to NASS —Melaye
By Clifford Ndujihe, Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — THE House of Representatives, yesterday, described former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letters to the leadership of the National Assembly, accusing the lawmakers of greed, graft and insensitivity to the declining state of the country’s economy, as misdirected, saying they would not be distracted from performing their constitutional duties.
Speaking at the National Assembly weekly briefing, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, said the National Assembly will not be distracted by Obasanjo’s letters, which also accused the legislature of insincerity over its planned purchase of 469 cars worth N4.7 billion.
Namdas stated that the lawmakers have tremendous respect for Obasanjo, adding, however, that the former president’s letters might not have been meant for the 8th Assembly but rather the 4th or 5th Assemblies.
“We have tremendous respect for the former President. We don’t want to be distracted by letters. Probably the letter is not meant for the 8th Assembly because we have cued in with President Muhammadu Buhari. I think the letter is meant for the 4th or 5th Assemblies. It was misdirected, “he said.
Commenting on the alleged sharing of N50m and 150 motorcycles to all members by the House Leadership, Namdas said the matter would be investigated and appropriate actions taken.
Obasanjo introduced bribery to NASS—Melaye
Speaking on the issue in an interview with The Cable, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West, described Obasanjo’s letters as misplaced anger and accused him of introducing corruption into the National Assembly while pursuing a third term ambition.
His words: “I have tremendous respect for President Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo. Elder statesman, respected pan-Africanist and committed patriot. The letter I can see is a misplacement of anger. Our leader is mistaking the Eighth National Assembly as the same Senate assembly that defrauded him in 2007.
“Those who collected his money and refused to implement the third term agenda. I appeal to Baba that we are not the ones please. After nine years of that bribery saga, the first of its kind, I expect forgiveness to have taken place.
“There was the case of bribery introduced by the Obasanjo regime in the desperate attempt to remove Speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba from office then. In fact, there was open display of that bribery money on the floor of the House. That government exposed the National Assembly to corruption and easy money. I hope this is not an attempt to cover up and distract attention from the Halliburton and Siemens corruption allegations.
“While I am against corruption anywhere in Nigeria, I will not support accusations based on anger and vindictiveness. The Eighth Senate should also look inwardly and purge herself of all the deliberate misgivings of the past. Nigeria must work and we must support the anti- corruption stance of the Buhari administration.”
Asked to speak on the allegation, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor, yesterday said: “First, I will not want to join issues with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I believe that he has his freedom of opinion which clearly is enshrined in the constitution. I am not going to go into any level of altercation with him, but he should realise that these vehicles are meant purely for oversight functions.
“If he believes we should not carry out oversight functions or probably we should rely on ministries and agencies of government even when travelling outside the states to carry out these responsibilities, he is at will to say whatever he wants to say.”
“But I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that these vehicles are not luxury vehicles, they are utility vehicles at the National Assembly, we use in carrying out our responsibilities. Like I said, I am not going to join issues with him, we are here as lawmakers in this country to carry out our responsibilities.”