Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s controversial third term bid was revisited at the weekend by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
He said but for the intervention of Second Republic President Shehu Shagari, the National Assembly would have impeached the former president over the plot to elongate his tenure.
Although Obasanjo has consistently denied ever nurturing such plan, it drew the ire of Nigerians in 2006‎ and 2007 when it dominated the polity.
‎Abaribe said but for the intervention of Shagari and other prominent Nigerians, Obsanjo would have made history as the first Nigerian president to be impeached, adding that, “… he had to go and bring Shagari… to come and beg them in the National Assembly so that they won’t do so.”
Senator Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) disclosed at the weekend when he delivered the 2015 University of Benin Faculty of Social Sciences Annual Lecture with the theme, “Our Country, Our Budget: A Critical Analysis of Nigeria’s budgeting system.”
He said: “The National Assembly has only one weapon and that weapon is impeachment. So, every chief executive knows that once we say impeachment, the whole country would say, ‘who the hell are you people to impeach our President?’ Impeachment is the weapon that we don’t use…But that is the only weapon we have to be able to compel the President to follow the law.”
The lawmaker also warned Nigerians not to expect the 2016 budget before November since President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to decide on his cabinet, whose ministers must be abreast of their ministries before they could prepare budget and defend same before the National Assembly.
He said that President Buhari is already racing against time over the 2016 budget preparation to the National Assembly, which ought to be presented next month in order to meet the threshold of good implementation.
Abaribe therefore urged the president to scrutinise the avalanche of briefings by permanent secretaries in charge of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAS, in order not to make costly mistakes.
He said: “If you are going to bring in ministers, the ministers would have to be embedded first, understand their ministries before they come to defend their budgets at the National Assembly. So, I do not see this process being sorted-out before November 2015.”
The senator ‎recalled that over the years there had been a lingering feud between the executive and legislature over which controls the nation’s treasury, adding that until a suitable legal framework was established, the scenario would remain.
On the National Assembly leadership crisis, the senator recalled that in 1999, Obasanjo against the wishes of all the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members who wanted the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo to be Senate president, imposed Chief Evan Enwerem on the Senate.
Once Enwerem took office, he said, Okadigbo worked hard at removing him so he could take over and when he did, President Obasanjo tried everything to remove him and, “among what he did that time was to take part of what was going to come to senators and members of the House of Representatives – a refundable amount called furniture allowance.”
He said announcing that National Assembly gets N9billion as the so-called furniture allowance whereas they paid back was Obasanjo’s way of painting the lawmakers bad before Nigerians over the removal of Enwerem, a picture he said had stuck since then while in actual fact the lawmakers get a refundable N42,000.
“But, it was a furniture grant that was supposed to be taken from their salaries, just like people get car grants and they pay from their salaries, and then Nigerians said the National Assembly was taking too much money. That is where it started.”
The senator, who ‎wondered why people should continue to ascribe to National Assembly members huge salaries or allowances, said: “On the website of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, you will see everybody’s salaries from the president of Nigeria to the lowest person in the public service. Now, why do people ascribe what we do not earn to us? When it was now clarified from N9 billion to N42,000 per person, nobody heard about it again,” he said.

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