•Lawmakers tackle ex-army chief over statement
By Adetutu Folashade-Koyi, Ndubuisi Orji and Fred Itua, Abuja
Former Chief of Army Staff in the Second Republic, General Alani Akinrinade has described Senators and members of the House of Representatives as “bunch of clowns.”
Akinrinade, who was also the Chief of Defence Staff, between 1980 and 1981, during former President Shehu Shagari’s government, said this in a video released by online medium, Sahara Reporters, on Thursday.
The 77-year-old former soldier added that the National Assembly members “are the most dishonourable people I know in the world.”
In the video, the elder statesman reacted with disgust at the viral video of the Aje Kun Iya song by Senator Dino Melaye.
Melaye had posted a video of the song online, hours after he was cleared by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions, over the legitimacy of his Ahmadu Bello University’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography.
General Akinrinade did not, however, find the video funny.
“My state cannot afford a governor, that is the truth of the matter. And, my country cannot afford the number of the so-called people in the National Assembly. We cannot afford them. That is why they can be singing empty…Aje ku iya ni oje. Our own senator! A man representing us! In this Century, where the world is?
“And all these clowns are there and we are saying that we should not talk about them, we should call them honourable. They are the most dishonourable people I know in the world,” said Akinrinade.
There was no timeline to the video but one Bamidele O agreed with General Akinrinade’s submission.
“You said it all. The question is, when are we, as Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic origin, going to wake up and flush them out?”
Meanwhile, some members of the House of Representatives have faulted Akinrinade’s comments.
Lawmakers, who spoke with Daily Sun, yesterday night, accused Akinrinade of making sweeping statement.
Besides, they challenged him to present empirical evidence to support his claim.
Hon. Sergius Ogun challenged Akinrinade to undertake thorough investigation of the legislators, which would include going to their constituencies to find out about their activities before making such comments.
According to him, what the former army chief has done is akin to branding all army general as criminals.
“He should not make a sweeping statement. It is like saying that all generals are criminals and rogues and that will include him.
“He should prove it. Does he have facts? If he knows any individual legislator who is dishonourable, he should mention the person.
“He should not just classify the entire legislature the way he has done.He should go to the constituencies and ask questions about what the legislators are doing before making such sweeping statement,” said Ogun.
Similarly, Hon. Timothy Golu, from Plateau State, challenged Akinrinade to support his claims with facts.
He said if, for instance, one military man or pastor is involved in a misdemeanor, it would be unfair for anyone to tar the entire military, or the Church, with a single brush.
“Let him give us the facts. The president working with us cannot say such a thing.
“Will it be fair to say that because one military man is bad, the entire military is bad? If somebody says the entire military is bad, will it be fair assessment?”
On his part, Hon. Linus Okorie told Daily Sun that, in as much as he respects Akinrinade as an elder statesman, the former army chief is not equipped to assess the Nigerian legislature.
“I respect him, I hope he was misquoted. But, if he was not, I would say he is not in the best position to assess democracy.
“Akinrinade would do better in advising on the military or culture.
“With all due respect to him, he is not equipped to assess the Nigerian legislature; except he spoke based on the usual sentiment of the public about the legislature,” Okorie stated.
However, efforts to get the official reaction of both chambers of the National Assembly yesterday night were unsuccessful as the mobile lines of Senate spokesman, Sabi Abdullahi and his House of Representatives counterpart, Abdulrasak Namdas were switched off.