Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo has returned to letter writing again. The former president has accused the leadership of the national assembly of not being sensitive to economic plights of Nigeria by planning to buy cars for themselves.
In the letter dated January 13, 2016, seen by The Cable, Obasanjo said a pool cars would have been sufficient to do the committee work, given all the allowances the lawmakers have already collected since their inauguration in June 2015.
The letter was addressed to the Senate president, Bukola Saraki and speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
“While in government, I was threatened with impeachment by the members of the National Assembly for not releasing some money they had appropriated for themselves which were odious and for which there were no incomes to support. The recent issue of cars for legislators would fall into the same category. Whatever name it is disguised as, it is unnecessary and insensitive. A pool of a few cars for each Chamber will suffice for any Committee Chairman or members for any specific duty. The waste that has gone into cars, furniture, housing renovation in the past was mind-boggling and these were veritable sources of waste and corruption. That was why they were abolished. Bringing them back is inimical to the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians,” he wrote.
Obasanjo asked the lawmakers to be transparent in their finances by publishing its recurrent budgets for the years 2000, 2005, 20 10 and 2015 recurrent expenditure and opening their books to an external auditor from 1999 till date.
He added that governance without transparency will be a mockery of democracy.
“The present economic situation that the country has found itself in is the climax of the steady erosion of good financial and economic management which grew from bad to worse in the last six years or so. The executive and the legislative arms of government must accept and share responsibility in this regard. And if there will be a redress of the situation as early as possible, the two arms must also bear the responsibility proportionally . The two arms ran the affairs of the country unmindful of the rainy day. The rainy day is now here. It would not work that the two arms should stand side by side with one arm pulling and without the support of the other one for good and efficient management of the economy.
“The purpose of election into the Legislative Assembly particularly at the national level is to give service to the nation and not for the personal service and interest of members at the expense of the nation which seemed to have been the mentality, psychology, mindset and practice within the National Assembly since the beginning of this present democratic dispensation. Where is patriotism? Where is commitment? Where is service?” Obasanjo wrote.
On the budget which was predicated on $38 per barrel of oil with estimated 2 million barrels per day despite the continuous fall in oil price, he said there was a need for caution, sober reflection and sacrifice with innovation at the level of executive and legislative arms of government.
The letter read in part: “If production and price projected on the budget stand, we would have to borrow almost one third of the 6 trillion naira budget. Now beginning with the reality of the budget, there is need for sober reflection and sacrifice with innovation at the level of executive and legislative arms of government. The soberness, the sacrifice and seriousness must be patient and apparent.
“It must not be seen and said that those who, as leaders, call for sacrifice from the citizenry are living in obscene opulence. It will not only be insensitive but callously so. It would seem that it is becoming a culture that election into the legislative arm of government at the national level in particular is a licence for financial misconduct and that should not be.
“The way of proposing budget should be for the executive to discuss every detail of the budget, in preparation, with different Committees and sub-Committees of the National Assembly and the National Assembly to discuss its budget with the Ministry of Finance. Then, the budget should be brought together as consolidated budget and formally presented to the National Assembly, to be deliberated and debated upon and passed into law. It would then be implemented as revenues are available. Where budget proposals are extremely ambitious like the current budget and revenue sources are so uncertain, more borrowing may have to be embarked upon, almost up to 50% of the budget or the budget may be grossly unimplementable and unimplemented. Neither is a choice as both are bad.
“Management of the economy is one of the key responsibilities of the President as prescribed in the Constitution. He cannot do so if he does not have his hands on the budget. Management of the economy is shared responsibility where the Presidency has the lion share of the responsibility. But if the National Assembly becomes a clog in the wheel, the executive efforts will not yield much reward or progress. The two have to work synchronisingly together to provide the impetus and the conducive environment for the private sector to play its active vanguard role. Management of the budget is the first step to manage the economy. It will be interesting if the National Assembly will be honourable enough and begin the process of transparency, responsibility and realism by publishing its recurrent budgets for 2016 as it should normally be done.”
Obasanjo called on the National Assembly to redeem itself by doing what is right which will bring a new and better image for them and also bring a new dawn to democracy in Nigeria.
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