Daily Independent (Lagos)
Obasanjo spoke Wednesday in Abuja at the public presentation of two books: ‘The Story of My Two Worlds: Challenges, Experiences,’ (an autobiography of a former President of the Court of Appeal and pioneer Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), Justice Mustapha Akanbi) and ‘A life of Service and Grace: Shared Perspectives,” (a collection of essays by scholars.)”
The former president said every aspect of Nigeria’s national life is riddled with corruption, even as he also said that the National Assembly is largely an assemblage of looters and thieves.
He said: “Apart from shrouding the remunerations of the National Assembly in opaqueness and without transparency, they indulge in extorting money from departments, contractors and ministries in two ways.
“They do so during visits to their projects and programmes and in the process of budget approval when they build up budgets for ministries and departments, who agree to give it back to them in contracts that they do not execute. They do similar things during their inquiries.”
Former President Obasanjo also said that under the President Jonathan-led administration, corruption has been elevated through the huge sums of money being paid to the National Assembly to stop investigating the administration’s corrupt acts.
“Corruption in the National Assembly also includes what they call constituency projects, which they give to their agents to execute but invariably, full payment is made with little or no job done.”
Obasanjo therefore urged the reversal of the trend if the nation is to experience meaningful growth. This is not the first time the former President would be accusing the current administration of corruption.
As a matter of analysts who argue that corruption is the bane of Nigeria’s development have severally called on the government to intensify its anti-corruption war. Incidentally, the Transparency International (TI) has also continued to rate Nigeria low on its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
Stakeholders agree that a lot needed to be done in the war against corruption for the nation to move forward and the citizens to benefit the dividends of democracy.
However, the Coalition against corrupt Leaders (CACOL) says that while former President Obasanjo’s view on increasing rates of corruption are correct, his own administration was also guilty.
Debo Adeniran, the executive chairman of the Coalition said former President Obasanjo needed to apologies to Nigerians for his administration’s own acts of corruption.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s views are no-doubt correct with regards to the level of unchecked corruption, bad management of the economy, poor handling of the insurgency in the North Eastern part of Nigeria and so on. It is not only true that all these issues are happening but also correct that we must all stand up and put things in right track.
“However, Obasanjo needs to apologise to Nigerians for the roles he played in all these. Frankly speaking, he single-handedly imposed the Yar’Adua-Jonathan administration on us, and so should take part of, if not, all the blames.
“And talking about corruption, Obasanjo is a case of pot calling kettle black. It is on record that many of the international scandals occurred place under him. The Halliburton bribery scandal, the Pentascope, Siemens, Wibross Scandal, Power Project Scandal, etc all happened during Obasanjo’s regime.”
Nevertheless, analysts argue that corruption thrives because the country’s leaders do not see political offices as a call to national duty. They contend that until politicians begin to see political office as a call to service and begin to apply the resources of the offices serving the people corruption will continue.
Former Head of State and presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari also agrees that corruption has decimated Nigeria. He is quoted as telling an online news portal TheCable that “Nigeria has abundant resources. God has endowed us with petroleum and some mineral resources, a lot of land for farming but the problem with Nigeria is massive corruption and if we don’t kill corruption in Nigeria, corruption will kill us.
SOURCE: Daily Independent.