Former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticized the National Assembly’s salary package, saying it was “outrageous” and “neither constitutional nor moral.”
Obasanjo made the comments in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria, during a colloquium to mark Aare Afe Babalola’s 60th anniversary at the bar. He argued that the high salaries of the legislators were out of touch with the reality of most Nigerians, who live in poverty.
“Nobody would appreciate democracy until it had impacted positively on the lives of the ordinary people,” Obasanjo said. “Democracy is a journey and not a destination, and it can only be strengthened if the players respect and implement the constitution to the letter.”
Obasanjo’s comments were echoed by other speakers at the colloquium, who called for reforms to the National Assembly in order to make it more accountable to the people.
“Democracy doesn’t mean anything to any man who is hungry, whose life is in danger or whose property is being destroyed,” Obasanjo said.
Pointedly addressing the remuneration of National Assembly members, Obasanjo alleged that the legislators did not allow the institution constitutionally saddled with the responsibility to determine their pay, but decided to fix it themselves.
He stated, “By the Nigerian constitution, the revenue mobilisation and fiscal commission is supposed to fix the salaries and emoluments of members of the National Assembly. But they set the constitution aside and decided to fix their salaries. Even if it’s constitutional, it is not moral. But it is neither constitutional nor moral.”
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