Mr. Obasanjo said shortly after visiting Mr. Buhari at the Presidential Villa that the current crisis in the House of Representatives confirmed his allegation that there were thieves in the National Assembly.
The former president spoke as the rift between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, intensified.
The former president said Nigerians should continue to protest the move by federal lawmakers to use the budget to illegally enrich themselves.
Since Mr. Buhari is the only person empowered to release money under the law, Mr. Obasanjo advised the president to only make funds available for expenditures that were legally budgeted for.
“That is criminal and they should be held accountable for it,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “There should be a showdown between what is right and what is wrong. After such a showdown, what is right will definitely prevail and the criminals will be put to shame.”
He said the constituency projects, as being canvassed by the lawmakers, were “illegal, criminal and wrapped in corruption”.
“They are the contractors, the jury, the judge and prosecutors,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “They put the projects in the budgets and they do the projects by themselves or through contractors they nominate. Where is integrity? Where is honesty?” the former president asked.
Still carpeting the lawmakers, Mr. Obasanjo said members of the National Assembly were simply trying to hijack the job of the executive arm of government.
“Who supervises the job? Who ascertains that the job has been done? It is not in their place to execute projects. It is illegal,” he said
The former president said during his tenure, he did not release funds for constituency projects.
“I explained to them that it was the job of the executive to execute projects to develop the country, while that of lawmakers was to approve the budget.” Mr. Obasanjo was president between 1999 and 2007.
“They are thieves. I have always held the view that they are thieves, can you all see it now?” he said.
He also said once lawmakers perform the functions of the executive, they would not do justice to lawmaking and would not be able to pass budgets the way they should be done.
The former president lamented that the national lawmakers were using the “constituency projects” to crowd out legitimate and genuine capital projects the executive would have used to develop the country.
He said he also advised federal lawmakers that if they wanted to be in a position to award contracts or execute projects like those in the executive arm of government, they should go and contest elections as local government chairmen, governors or president.
He warned lawmakers against usurping the functions of the executive out of greed, selfishness, lawlessness and criminality.
“They should be lawmakers, not law breakers,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the state houses of assembly and the national assembly. What sort of laws will they make?”
The former president described the “so-called constituency projects” as a waste of public funds that should not be condoned by any leader.
This is not the first time Mr. Obasanjo had descended heavily on Nigerian lawmakers.
In 2012, the former president lashed out at the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly, describing them as institutions filled with “rogues and armed robbers”.
Mr. Obasanjo spoke at an event in Lagos attended by two former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon and Ernest Shonekan.
He again lambasted the country’s lawmakers at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies, attended by former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde
Fashola and retired Chief Justice Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais.
At that event, Mr. Obasanjo referred to the legislature as among the the nation’s most corrupt and inefficient institutions.
At the event, the former president said the National Assembly was populated by corrupt persons.
“Apart from shrouding the remunerations of the National Assembly in opaqueness and without transparency, they indulge in extorting money from departments, contractors and ministries in two ways,” he said.
In January this year, the former president wrote Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara accusing the federal lawmakers of corruption, impunity, greed and of repeatedly breaking the nation’s laws.
In a letter dated January 13, Mr. Obasanjo specifically accused the lawmakers of fixing and earning salaries and allowances far above what the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission approved for them.
He also alleged that most of the 109 senators and 369 members of the House of Representatives were receiving constituency allowances without maintaining constituency offices as required by law.
“That is criminal and they should be held accountable for it. There should be a showdown between what is right and what is wrong. After such a showdown, what is right will definitely prevail and the criminals will be put to shame. They are the contractors, the jury, the judge and prosecutors.
They put the projects in the budgets and they do the projects by themselves or through contractors they nominate. Where is integrity? Where is honesty? Who supervises the job? Who ascertains that the job has been done? It is not in their place to execute projects. It is illegal. They are thieves. I have always held the view that they are thieves, can you all see it now?” he said