ABUJA — President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has formally replied a letter ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to the National Assembly on January 13, accusing the country’s federal lawmakers of corruption, greed, lawlessness and impunity. This came barely days after the Senate President took delivery of exotic cars for the Senate.
In his reply, dated January 29, Saraki responded to Obasanjo’s concern, saying the 8th National Assembly under his leadership was already taking deliberate steps to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions and ensure prudent management of resources.
“This is to ensure that we plug all leakages and minimize waste across our expenditure systems,” the Senate President said in the two-page letter. “Likewise, the 8th National Assembly has made the issue of plugging leakages and cutting wastages in our public expenditure system a major priority that should not be toyed with. This may have happened in the past but it will not happen with us,” he said. The former president had in his letter, addressed to Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, 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 the laws required of them. He faulted the plans by the lawmakers to acquire new exotic cars for themselves, saying “whatever name it is disguised as, it is unnecessary and insensitive.” He advised that “a pool of a few cars for each chamber will suffice for any Committee Chairman or members for any specific duty.” But in his response, Saraki told the former President that the lawmakers were fully aware of the challenges the nation was facing. He said: “As leaders with a duty, we will not disappoint Nigerians in their yearnings for a more transparent public expenditure system.” On corruption, Saraki said the National Assembly was working with President Muhammadu Buhari to stem the menace in the country. According to him, the legislature was already overhauling its oversight functions to make it more effective in exposing corruption in federal ministries, departments and agencies. He said: “We are hand in glove with the President on this matter and this is why we are overhauling our oversight functions to make it more effective in exposing corruption in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. “We recognize the hard work our anti-corruption agencies are putting into this fight. The Senate is resolved to support them to perform their duty effectively by providing them with adequate funding where necessary, as their work in integral to our oversight responsibility.”