A former member of the House Representatives from Borno State, Dr Haruna Yerima, has said that corruption is deeply rooted in the National Assembly and that very little can be achieved within a short time to stem the tide.
Dr Yerima said “there is nothing one can do at the moment to stop corruption in the National Assembly.”
The ex-legislator, who stated this yesterday at the 34th Aminu Kano Annual Memorial Symposium, held in Kano, recalled his days at the House of Representatives when ex- president Olusegun Obasanjo allegedly bribed legislators with N50 million in order to actualise his third term ambition.
He said though some members turned down the money, others collected the largesse.
A Public Administration lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr Yerima, who spoke on the topic: ‘Politics after Malam Aminu Kano: The Role of the Legislature in Nigeria’s Democratic Development’, said very few members of the National Assembly rejected the Obasanjo’s N50m offer.
“In the House of Representatives, I was the only member who rejected the Obasanjo’s third term bid and that was what led to my exit from the house,” he recalled.
He said the major problem aiding corruption at the National Assembly was that majority of the lawmakers lacked the basic knowledge of the duties and functions of the legislature, hence, they could not help the country out of the mess.
“We have to make our members of the House of Reps and senators understand what democracy is all about. We have to make them understand the rules of the house and the constitution even if they cannot read and write.
“I have a colleague who spent 12 years in the National Assembly but never even seconded a motion not to talk of moving it on the floor of the house. The problem is that most of our legislators are attached to their governors and are dancing to their tunes,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, a discussant, Barrister Festus Okoye, said the National Assembly was faced with challenges of oversight functions and understanding the functions of the legislative arm of government.
He said there was serious confusion in the National Assembly because many of the legislators do not understand their duties.
However, a former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, apportioned the blame on the electorate, noting that “those who are accused of being corrupt are elected into public offices by the electorate and the electorate know what they were given prior to the election.”
A former National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Nasir Fagge, said Nigeria was faced with three major problems that included policy making, insincerity and lack of consistency on the part of government.