From Fred Itua, Abuja
Barely 24 hours after former president Olusegun Obasanjo lampooned members of the National Assembly of being corrupt, Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, challenged the former president to prove his allegations of corruption.
The senator who claimed he turned down Obasanjo’s N50 million offer to endorse his third term bid, vowed to vacate his seat if Obasanjo could prove one record of corruption against him.
Obasanjo, on Monday, after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, told State House correspondents that the National Assembly was an assemblage of looters and thieves.
“Well, if you said that I have said it in the past and if there are people who didn’t believe what I said in the past and then you now say that what has come out confirms what I said in the past, then I can say what I said in the past is what I will say now. It is not a question of investigation, we should get men and women of integrity in the place and the president should be very vigilant, whatever should not pass should not pass,” Obsasanjo said in reaction to the recent budget padding allegations rocking the House of Representatives.
That was the the upteenpth time Obasanjo was taking the nation’s lawmakers, both at the federal and states, to the cleaners. In 2012, he described the legislative arm as an institution filled with “rogues and armed robbers”. He repeated the ‘assault in 2014.
In January this year, the former president wrote Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara accusing the federal lawmakers of corruption, impunity, greed and of repeatedly breaking the nation’s laws.
But reacting to the recent outburst, Na’Allah, who served as a member of the House of Representatives, said in a statement that he took exception to the impression that there were no men of integrity in the National Assembly.
“I am respectfully taking exception to the statement which I express the hope is not true,” the lawmaker said. “To start with it is not in my character to join issues with an 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.
“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 President Obasanjo.
“I find this statement, if it is true, to be reckless and terrifying. The implications 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate is yet to officially react to Obasanjo’s claims. Its spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi, said on Monday that lawmakers were not aware of Obasanjo’s corruption allegations.
He also claimed that since members were currently on their annual break, it was difficult for him to give any official reaction, maintaining that he was yet to be briefed.