Okurounmu Backs Obasanjo, Says Senators, Reps Are Thieves

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim that the National Assembly members are corrupt has been backed by a prominent Yoruba leader, Senator Femi Okurounmu.

Okurounmu, who represented Ogun-Central senatorial district between 1999 and 2003, said this during a telephone interview with the Punch on Thursday.

The elder statesman, who had always disagreed with Obasanjo before now, said the members of the National Assembly were milking Nigeria dry and killing the nation’s economy.

It would be recalled that Obasanjo, in an open letter to the leadership of the National Assembly had said that federal lawmakers share within themselves salaries and allowances above the template approved by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission for National Assembly members.

Okurounmu, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the National Conference of 2014, said the lawmakers are only pretending not to know what Obasanjo is saying.

According to him, “I have been saying the same thing for years. For once, Obasanjo and I agree on something. I agree with him completely because he is saying the truth. He knows everything because he has been in the system.”

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Okurounmu said the lawmakers steal taxpayers’ money through the controversial constituency allowance.

He stated that in his time at the Senate, there was no such thing as the so-called constituency allowance.

He explained, “The constituency allowance is just a way of getting money. They are all thieves. The constituency allowance was introduced when we were in the Senate and it was not allowance. It was for projects that the Federal Government ministries would prosecute.

“As a senator, you would identify a project in your constituency which you want the government to execute. If it is a road, you would list it under the Federal Ministry of Works. If it is water, you would put it under the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority and then you begin to lobby for the execution of the projects. It is not that cash is given to you.

“They are not supposed to do so. But today, they get the money and get so many other allowances.”

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It will be recalled also that despite the call by different bodies like the pro-transparency group, BudgIT Nigeria, asking the National Assembly to give a breakdown of its budget, the federal legislative body has refused to do so, stating that it could not do so because it could not reveal third party information.

He said the National Assembly operates in secrecy.

He, then urged members of the press and the masses to do more in demanding accountability from the lawmakers.