Obasanjo should be the Least person to talk about Anti-Corruption – APC Senator

Some principal officers of the National Assembly have fired back at for­mer President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Executive arm of government over alleged cor­ruption and budget padding by the legislature.
The first shot came yesterday from the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ibn Na’Allah (APC-Ke­bbi South) who chronicled how Obasanjo attempted to bribe the National Assembly to secure a third term.
Na’Allah declared that he rejected Obasanjo’s N50 mil­lion bribe to support the abort­ed third term bid.
According to him, Obasan­jo should be the last among Ni­gerians to point accusing finger at the National Assembly on al­legations of corruption.
The second shot directed at the Executive arm of government came from the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, who explained how some ministries padded the votes in the 2016 budgets.
Abdullahi said: “The Execu­tive arm of government was the one that padded the 2016 Budg­et. When you look at the original document that came to the Na­tional Assembly, they had some­thing like, ‘New Item Requesting’. Is that a project head? We do not even understand it. And it is in the Health Ministry budget. That is padding and it was from the Ex­ecutive.
“In the National Assembly, when you look at the power to make appropriations, what we have are inputs or insertions, and that is not padding,” he stated.
Na’Allah, who was a member of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2011, while reacting to Obasanjo’s allegation that National Assembly lawmak­ers are “corrupt, rogues and lack integrity” which most national dailies reported on Tuesday, said he is not corrupt and that he has integrity.
In a statement he signed, Sen­ator Na’Allah challenged Oba­sanjo to tell Nigerians when he (Na’Allah) collected bribes from him in the course of discharg­ing his constitutional duties as a member of the National Assembly.
He said: “I am respectfully taking exception to the statement which I express the hope is not true. To start with, it is not in my character to join issues with elder statesmen who have had the privi­lege of superintending over the af­fairs of our great country Nigeria.
“This exception has become necessary in view of the enormity of the alleged statement to my per­son and integrity. If former Presi­dent Obasanjo can come out with one proven record of corruption against me as a person I promise to vacate my seat as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
Na’Allah continued: “For the records, I was the only member from kebbi State who did not find it worthy at that time of collecting the sum of N50 million as an in­ducement to subvert the constitu­tion and provide a constitutional framework for the third term am­bition of Obasanjo.”
He wondered why the for­mer President who the interna­tional community should see as a symbol of unity and peace, should be the one fanning the embers of disunity and hatred between the citizenry and their elected repre­sentatives.
“I find this statement, if it is true, to be reckless and terrifying.
 The implication of the statement is to say that the entire over 170 million Nigerians have not elect­ed a single person with integrity among the 469 members of the National Assembly. This is def­initely rhapsodic and does not conform to common sense and reason,” Na’Allah said.
At a summit organised by the Association of Professional Bod­ies of Nigeria (APBN) in Abuja on Tuesday, Senator Abdullahi insist­ed that the Executive cannot claim that its hands are clean on budget padding because NASS can only make “inputs” and “insertions” into the budget.
He explained that: “On the is­sue of padding, I want to say this. I took an oath as a veterinary doc­tor and I never forget that oath. As a Senator, I took an oath and I never forget that oath. What is padding? Simply, it is when you put something in the budget with­out clearly defining what that is meant for in terms of implemen­tation”.
He, however, blamed the Fed­eral Ministry of Health for doing nothing to halt medical tourism in the country.
He lamented that President Muhammadu Buhari’s adminis­tration has promised to reverse the trend, but wondered why the ministry in its 2016 Budget pro­posal had no sub-head to address the issue.
Former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, who also spoke at the occasion, urged Ni­gerian professionals to support the President Buhari’s efforts to reduce corruption in the country.
He further appealed profes­sional bodies to mete out stiffer measures on their members who aid and abet corruption.
Abubakar who was represent­ed on the occasion by the Presi­dent of the Pharmaceutical Soci­ety of Nigeria (PSN), Mr Ahmed Yakasai, also urged professional bodies to fight quackery among their members. He regretted that innocent Nigerians continue to die or lose their property because of the activities of quacks.
He said:: “Professionals are ex­pected to be above board. We are expected to bring solutions to the corruption in the country, not to be part of it; because corruption will kill everything.
“Whatever you are going to do, you have to look at the open­ness, accountability and transpar­ency and sincerity of purpose. Any professional who is going to do something in his area of calling must show diligence, patriotism and efficiency that would stand him out as a professional because if you are found wanting, you are no longer a professional.”
The President of the APBN, Foluso Fasoto, said recommen­dations from the two-day summit would cover the series of policy op­tions to strengthen the role and rel­evance of professionals in Nigeria.

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