The Senate has dismissed the allegation by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo that the National Assembly was using constituency projects to siphon public funds. The upper House said Obasanjo’s claim was aimed at denigrating the sanctity of the parliament.
The Senate recalled that it was the administration of the former president that approved the constituency projects to be built in the national budget which was executed by the executive.
A statement by the Senate chairman on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe therefore described the allegation of corruption against it by Obasanjo as unfortunate.
“President Obasanjo for the avoidance of doubt, was the initiator of the constituency project in the year 2000 as a means of ensuring that projects were fairly spread across the country using the Senatorial zones as the spring board.
“To ensure execution of the projects, President Obasanjo again factored the constituency projects into the annual budgets to be implemented by the executive depending on availability of funds. That is to say that no lawmaker ever comes close to the funds or even determine the contractor for the said projects or when the said contract would be awarded.
“So, it looks curious and surprising that President Obasanjo would turn around after over ten years of initiating such a project to allege that the National Assembly is performing the function of both the executive and the parliament.
“Is it not preposterous for anybody to believe that members of the National Assembly would against the provisions of the constitution with regards to application of separation of powers, award contracts ‘to their agents to execute’ and expect the Presidency under a President Obasanjo or any other President for that matter to pay for what they are not part of?
“Such allegation stands logic on its head, as it amounts to an indictment of the Presidency for wilfully contravening the budget laws by ceding its power to execute to the National Assembly, if it was the case.”
The Senate therefore challenged the former President to lay the facts out before Nigerians on why he suddenly thinks the National Assembly members now execute the national budget.
“It will also help to clear the allegation once and for all, if any presidency official not only from the time past but currently, could come forward and explain the true position of the so called constituency projects. Doing so would at least set the records straight,” the upper House noted.