Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described the National Assembly and the jumbo pay for lawmakers as a huge drain on national economy.
He said the Nigerian lawmakers enjoy huge pay, which he described as the highest in the world where, according to him, an estimated 75 percent of Nigerians populace lived in poverty.
Obasanjo said this at the book presentation of Prof. Mark Nwagwu entitled: “I am Kagara, I Weave the Sands of Sahara” at the University of Ibadan.
He was the Chief Host, while the former Minister of Education; Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili chaired the occasion.
The former President said he would continue to criticise the Nigerian lawmakers as long as they continue to receive huge pay, which he insisted, consume a huge percentage of the nation’s overhead cost.
He, however, urged the federal government and the National Assembly to reduce the cost expended on payment of overheads and salaries.
The former president said that government spending on overheads, salaries and allowances in the face of the prevailing economic situation would not boost the socio-economic development of the country.
“Ninety per cent of our revenue goes to pay overhead, allowances, salaries and not much is left for capital development.
“We are not going to develop this way and we will only have ourselves to blame.
“It is even worse with the National Assembly, they are one of the highest paid legislatures in the world.
“We have 75 per cent of our population living in abject poverty, yet these people have refused to cut down their earnings.
“We must speak out to get corrected when we err, the behaviour and character of the National Assembly is one that should be condemned,” he said.
Reacting to the ongoing indefinite strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Obasanjo urged the government to honour the agreement it entered into with the union.
“I have seen this in government; maybe it is a lesson government will learn. Government should not allow itself to be stampeded into signing agreement without full consultation with those within the government.
“Then, they run into the implementation of that agreement that has been signed; however, an agreement is an agreement and whoever is your agent who signed the agreement on your behalf, you are bound by it,” he said.
In her remarks, Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education, urged the society to offer the girl-child opportunity to excel by giving her equal right to education as her male counterpart.
I am Kagara” is built around a female heroine; the book highlights the marked difference a woman can make if given the needed support.
“The greatest support a girl-child could have is that of a strong male who gives her a voice and is not afraid of her,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the book was set in contemporary Nigeria where terrorist organisations are threatening innocent residents in the Niger Delta and the North-east Zone.
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