- He lacks moral justification to talk about corruption – PDP chieftain
Due to economic recession being faced by Nigeria, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has advised government at all levels to reduce waste and merge their institutions and relevant agencies, stressing that some of these institutions should not exist separately, even as he advised the governments to think of becoming slimmer in their expenses.
Obasanjo gave the advice when he hosted members of the Joint Tax Board led by its Chairman, Babatunde Fowler at his Hilltop mansion in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
But a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abia Onyike lambasted former Obasanjo over his allegation of corruption against the National Assembly, saying that the ex-President lacked the locus standi to talk on the subject of corruption, considering the economic woes that faced Nigerians during his administration, describing Obasanjo as a highly committed antagonist of the legislative institution in the country.
Obasanjo in a closed door meeting with members of the Board, which lasted for about an hour, also advised governments to ensure that the tax paid by citizens are justified and made to count.
He said, “When times are hard, it is when the government needs more Internally Generated Revenue, and it is also the time that those from whom the government would want to generate fund are hard to be able to get money. What do we have to do? They must continue to try with increase as much as possible, what each state can generate in terms of Internally Generated Revenue, but states must also embark on a number of things.
“One, reducing waste, two, they have to look into becoming slimmer, government can do a lot by looking at their own establishments, where do they have to bring together institutions that don’t need to continue to exist separately.
“And, generally, also show that the money they generate, the tax that the citizens pay, are well utilised and they can show the people that, ‘look you paid for this, and it has been well utilised’.
“I think these are some of the things we have to do to get us out of the tight situation that we are all in and we pray that the tax will role in sooner than later.”
Also speaking after the meeting, the Chairman of the Board who is also the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, said Obasanjo emphasised on eradicating waste during the closed door session.
When asked what he has learnt from the former President, Fowler said, “One thing that he did say is that, although our main objective is to raise money for government, government also has to make sure they eradicate waste.
“And again an analogy that he has said this eleven year ago in Lagos, that tax tradition is like blood to the body, he also said that once we have funded that body with blood, the heart pumps it and the heart is the government. So, the government has to make sure it pumps it to all the sectors or areas of the body, meaning that, those in charge of the government, once the revenue comes in, they should make sure the whole of Nigeria feels the impact of the expenditure.”
Reacting to Obasanjo’s comment about the NASS in Abakaliki, Onyike explained that the views of the former President on democracy had been mediaval and preposterous.
He alleged that the former President during his administration worked hard to destabilise the operations of the National Assembly.
He said, “Nigerians have not forgotten the shameless parade of Ghana-must-go on the floor of House of Reps during the failed bid to remove Ghali Umar Naaba. Neither have they forgotten the $13.6 billion spent on the power sector without stable electricity under Obasanjo regime.
“It is a gratuitous insult on our collective intelligence as Nigerians for our main symbol of democracy (the National Assembly) to be assaulted and disparaged at will-a culture nurtured under Obasanjo, but which has become the dominant strategy of the current neo-fascist alliance ruling this country today-an alliance that has wasted more precious time and energy in fighting real or imagined enemies than in battling the economic recession which has resulted in mass starvation nationwide.