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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

It’s immoral, unconstitutional for lawmakers to fix own salary – Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo Monday described the attempt of Nigerian lawmakers to fix their own salaries as not only immoral but unconstitutional.

Obasanjo added that the action was contrary to the constitutional provision that wages of public officers should be fixed by the Revenue Mobilisation Fiscal and Allocation Commission (RMFAC).

He spoke at the 60th anniversary of legal luminary Afe Babalola’s call to Bar.

The Nation reports that the event attracted a cream of Nigeria’s eminent people across professions and political divide, was held at the Afe Babalola University,  Ado Ekiti, owned by the celebrator.

Among the dignitaries there were former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon, erstwhile Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku;  Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola; Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji, Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Oyewusi, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed and many a Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

Representatives of the University of London and Kings College, London were also at the occasion.

The event featured a book launch and a lecture titled: “The Future of Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria: Imperative of a New Constitutional Order.”

The lecture was delivered by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese,  Martin Hassan Kukah.SKIP

Speakers extolled the Babalola’s virtue and his exploits as a lawyer, educationist and farmer.

They also harped on poor democratic tenets, corruption and insecurity had negatively affected the nation’s development.

Obasanjo said it was saddening that lawmakers  who ought to uphold the 1999 Constitution were  ”the ones who undermine it.”

According to the former President emoluments  of elected officials ought to be fixed  by   RMAFC and not lawmakers

He said: “Under Paragraph 32(a-e) of Part I to the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the commission (RMAFC)  is saddled with determining the remuneration appropriate for political officeholders, including legislators.

“The point in Nigeria which I have seen and which I can attest to is most of the people who are supposed to be operationalising or managing and seeing the Constitution and democracy move forward, they are actually the ones who undermine the Constitution.

“All elected people, by our Constitution, their emolument is supposed to be fixed by the RMFAC, but our lawmakers set that aside and they make laws and put any emolument for themselves.

“Even if that is Constitutional, it is not moral and, of course, what they do is  neither Constitutional nor moral.”

He also complained that other aspects of the  Constitution such as federal character have been  ”absolutely ignored,” thereby making the Federal Character Commission unable to carry out its functions.

Obasanjo warned that when the Constitution is “continually breached,”   democracy becomes one in which anything goes.

Describing democracy as a “journey and not a destination,”  he argued that it(democracy)  would not be appreciated if the impacts were not felt by the people.

He explained that democracy could only be strengthened if the players respected and implemented the Constitution to the letter.

”Democracy doesn’t mean anything to any man who is hungry, whose life is in danger or whose property is being destroyed,” Obasanjo said.

He congratulated nonagenarian Babalola,  describing him as a   titan at the bar, astute litigator and bar leader nationally and internationally.

The ex-President added that the celebrator is a rare breed who combines comeliness with brilliance while rising to the pinnacle of the law profession.

He praised Babalola for being a source of inspiration to the younger generation.

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