While the Senate did not directly address the Tuesday’s comments during the plenary meeting today, spokesman Enyinnaya Abaribe, at a later press briefing, called on the former President to name those lawmakers who fit into his description.
Speaking at the fourth annual national conference of Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies (AES) in Lagos on Tuesday, Obasanjo blamed Nigeria’s failings on the corrupt misdeeds of lawmakers and the judiciary.
He criticized the legislature, as the leading institution amongst the nation’s most corrupt and inefficient. Other corrupt institutions, he said, are the police.
“Integrity is necessary for all systems and institutions to be strong. Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the state houses of assembly and the national assembly. What sort of laws will they make?” he asked.
On the judiciary, the former president said “he judiciary is also corrupt. During my tenure, many of the corrupt judges were removed, some are still there.
“If the judiciary becomes corrupt, where is the hope for Nigeria?
Senators did not refer to Obasanjo‘s remark at Wednesday’s plenary, leaving the spokesperson, Enyinnaya Abaribe, to address the concern at a later media briefing.
At the House, Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, brushed aside an attempt by deputy minority leader, Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (ANPP, Kano), to table the subject for discussion. Mr. Tambuwal said there was no room for debates, but referred the comments to the Ethics and Privileges committee, a sign that the issue may never be revisited.
Both chambers of the National Assembly on Wednesday managed an urbane response to Mr. Obasanjo, a marked difference from the lawmakers’ blistering hit back at the former leader when he made similar comment in August 2010.
Then, Mr. Obasanjo had accused the lawmakers of padding national budgets and drawing huge and unjustified earnings. Minority members of the House then, referred to Mr. Obasanjo as the “grandfather of corruption,” while the senators called for proof.
But the senate spokesperson on Wednesday said, “The National Assembly has great respect for the person of the former president of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the National Assembly can never engage in any talk back to the president.
“We actually feel that the former president would help the National Assembly and indeed also help Nigeria in the new spirit of transparency and openness by assisting the National Assembly by naming those that he knows in the national assembly as either rogues or criminals.
“That would help us to be able to sanitize the polity and we sincerely thank him for his role in Nigeria as someone who cares very deeply about the Nigerian state and how it is at the moment. And not just President Obasanjo , we also urge other Nigerians who are concerned about Nigeria to also in the spirit of transparency let us know whatever information that they have so that we can use it to check ourselves and to be able to make Nigeria a better place.”
At the House, the minority leader raised the issue as a breach of lawmakers’ privilege describing Mr. Obasanjo as lacking credibility and remaining vengeful at the federal lawmakers since they denied the ex-president a tenure elongation.
“I am not an armed robber neither am I a rogue. His greatest grouse against us is that we refused him third term in office and since then we have become his enemies. But Obasanjo does not have credibility in Nigeria. Remember he was dragged to court by his own son accusing him of sleeping with his wife,” he said.
The speaker overruled debates on the issue and ordered an ethics committee probe.