THERE are no more debates about the fact that corruption is thriving. Both the National Assembly and former President Olusegun Obasanjo agree that there is corruption in high places and they have been aware of it for long.
Obasanjo accused the National Assembly of corruption, of inflating budgets and awarding themselves bogus allowances.
There were no denials of the allegations. â€œObasanjo is our father and grand-father in corruption. I cannot sit here and tell you that we are not corrupt. Obasanjo was correct to say that we insert constituency projects in the budget and that we decide who the contractors would be,â€ Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ali Ndume, told National Assembly Correspondents.
â€œIt was Obasanjo that bribed every member of the House in 2006 with N50 million each to support his failed third term agenda. I want the Press to find out what was the asset and bank account of Obasanjo before he became President in 1999. Then go and check his bank account now, and his assets, then you will understand what I am saying.
Deputy Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba said: â€œIt is not enough to make wide accusations. I challenge him to provide more facts and we will respond accordingly. As a former President of this country, he should be ready to provide the facts. But the truth of the matter is that the budget of the Senate constitutes only three per cent of the national budget so it cannot be a drain on the economy of the country.â€
â€œWe should look closely at the legislature so that they can be more open and transparent in the way they do their work. Nobody knows in detail how much it costs us to maintain a senator. I believe it is more than N250 million,â€ Obasanjo had alleged.
â€œCompare what it cost in 1999 and 2000. It cost about $1.7 million. They come up and say something is constituency project, what is this constituency project? They insert it in the budget, they would find the contractor and the contractor would work for them, that is constituency project? They then accuse some people of corruption, who are not corrupt.â€
It is interesting that these allegations are flying about from these quarters. They simply prove how serious we are at all levels. Is Obasanjo just aware of the bogus expenditure of the National Assembly?
Why is he bringing them up if not to draw attention to him and distract us from other more urgent issues? Should he not have made the complaints to the various anti-corruption agencies? What moral standing does Obasanjo have to make these allegations when these things went on in the National Assembly while he was President?
Corruption is too serious and should not be taken lightly. Obasanjo makes light of it believing that pushing the challenge to others would take the attention away from himself.
The allegations are true. In making them, the exclusion of the executive reveals Obasanjoâ€™s intentions. It is also important that the issues of Obasanjoâ€™s tenure and how they perpetrated the progress or lack of it of our democracy.
It is still too late to stabilise our democracy by ensuring that there are standards for leadership with the appropriate privileges and responsibilities.
Corruption is incorporated, the accused and accuser seem to be saying, they may also be reminding us that they have enough membership.