Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday, faulted the salaries paid to members of the National Assembly.
The former president noted that the salaries received by the members were not based on the recommendations of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.
He lamented that most of those supposed to operationalise the Nigerian constitution were the ones undermining the country’s democracy.
Obasanjo said, “By the Nigerian Constitution, the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission are supposed to fix the salaries and emoluments of the members of the National Assembly, but they set the constitution aside and decided to fix their salaries”.
The former president spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, during a lecture titled, ‘The future of constitutional democracy in Nigeria: Imperative of a new constitutional order’ delivered by Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.
It was part of activities marking the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the call to bar of the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN).
Obasanjo said citizens were meant to enjoy democracy, which he said could only be strengthened if the players respected and implemented the constitution to the letter.
He said, “Democracy doesn’t mean anything to any man who is hungry, whose life is in danger, or whose property is being destroyed.”
A joyful Afe Babalola (SAN), who expressed gratitude to the dignitaries on the occasion, friends and family members, reiterated that the 1999 constitution could not produce good governance in the country, because of its flaws which he said could only be remedied by coming up with a new constitution for the country.
Babalola made a case for better pay packages for the country’s judges, saying as it was at present, SANs could not be attracted to the bench with the poor remuneration of the judges.
Kukah had in his lecture made a case for men of integrity in the judiciary, particularly at the Supreme Court.
The bishop, who called on the Federal Government to avoid sentiments in the process of the country’s democratic journey, said upholding the provisions of democracy required selfless service which should not be sentimentally driven to foster development.
He frowned at leaders who limited development to their hometowns, saying, “This does not project democracy. This does not speak well of our democracy.
“Nigeria needs to grow democratically and developed politically. Every federal institution must reflect what Nigeria should reflect all over the country. The country should stop reinforcing inequality. There must be sanctions and consequences for those who go against our democracy and the constitution of the land for us to have a better society.”
In his remarks, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), called on President Bola Tinubu to show leadership and fight corruption. He said, “Corruption has taken a dangerous dimension, the president should lead the anti-corruption crusade so that this country can take its rightful place in the comity of nations.”
Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, who described Afe Babalola as a gift to Ekiti State, said the SAN created the platform for him and others before him to become governors, going by the role he played in the creation of the state.
Oyebanji said, “If we don’t have this state, I and all others that have been governors of this state will not have a platform. So, on behalf of myself and all the governors before me, I say thank you, sir.”