BY Emman OVUAKPORIE & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA—Senators yesterday demanded apology from former President Olusegun Obasanjo over what they described as his ineffectual battle against corruption asserting that his castigation of the present administration’s fight against corruption is misplaced.
The lawmakers spoke following the claim by President Obasanjo on Wednesday that his successors in office did not devote as much energy as he did in office to the battle against corruption. Obasanjo who spoke on the fringes of the ongoing International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland had alleged that corrupt people were entrenched in government and that the present administration lacks the capacity to uproot them.
Among those who responded yesterday were Senators Datti Baba Ahmed, CPC, Kaduna North; Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP, Delta North and Adego Eferakaya.
Rep Tajudeen Yusuf, PDP, Kogi, Rep Victor Ogene, APGA, Ogbauru Federal Constituency, Anambra and Rep Zakari Mohammed, PDP Kwara, also joined senators in flaying the former president over his comments.
Senator Datti Baba Ahmed, CPC, Kaduna North, in his reaction accused the former president of laying the foundation for what he described as the present laxity in the fight against corruption.
“It is extremely difficult to understand Obasanjo. I do not have answers to it, the things he is doing or saying. Many times, the things he says or do in the name of a leader defy logic. I do not have immediate answer why he made that comment.
“He should spend his time better by making peace with his God and apologise to Nigeria for eight years of technical misrule. It is a continuation of the legacy he bequeathed to a government so fraudulently established.”
Senator Okowa on his part disagreed with Chief Obasanjo, noting that the present administration has shown enough political will to stamp out corruption.
He also described Obasanjo’s alleged comment as harmful to the economic interest of the nation.
“I know that President Goodluck Jonathan has come out to say that one of the five cardinal points of this administration is to fight corruption, because without fighting corruption, it will be difficult for the economy to develop the way we all want it to. I think that the President has done enough even though the administration is still very young.
“Besides giving the EFCC and the ICPC the free hand to do their work, the President’s commitments to the fight against corruption has been shown in his push for the Freedom of Information Bill. He signed the bill into law and with the bill now, it is easy for people to walk into public institutions to request for information. This is a good step taken by President Jonathan which was not done before. It is a strong weapon towards achieving corruption free society.”
Continuing, Senator Okowa said:
“I believe that President Goodluck Jonathan has started well and I hope that he will move the nation in the right direction in fighting corruption. If we are saying that we do not have the political will to fight corruption, is like telling the world that Nigeria is not good enough for even people to come and invest.”
In his own comment former Senator Eferakaya who represented Delta Central at the Senate between 2007 and 2011, said the former President should devote himself to supporting the government’s fight against corruption rather than apportioning blames.
“He is entitled to his opinion. I do not know on what basis he is making the statement,” Eferakaya said.
Rep Yusuf equally disagreed with the former President on the matter saying that President Goodluck Jonathan has shown commitment and vision to cleanse the country of bad eggs.
Rep Victor Ogene, Ogbauru Federal Constituency,Anambra said former President Obasanjo comment showed that the honey moon between him and President Jonathan could be coming to an end.
“It was Obasanjo that brought the EFCC and ICPC to an all time low in the scheme of things and nothing has changed he has not said anything new, because he used the agencies for persecution and what we are witnessing is his legacy,” Ogene said.
“It is only only when an offender has fallen out of favour that the anti-graft agencies are sent after him, a case in point is that of the former speaker and his deputy, the offences were said to have been committed some two three years ago but suddenly as they fell out of favour the EFCC remembered them, Obasanjo spoke out of malice nothing else.”
Rep Mohammed on his part described the claims by the former President as not worthy of a statesman.
“Obasanjo we believe is one of the most privileged Nigerians who had gone in and out of presidency twice and he should be the very first to believe in Project Nigeria, his act is not patriotic.”