Former President Olusegun Obasanjo strongly condemned the practice of lawmakers setting their own emoluments, describing it as both ‘unconstitutional’ and unethical.
The remark was made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his speech at the 60th-anniversary celebration of Aare Afe Babalola’s call to the Bar, which took place in Ado Ekiti on Monday.
The former president expressed his unease, shedding light on the unsettling fact that those entrusted with preserving the Constitution are now the ones compromising its values.
Obasanjo pointed out that the responsibility for fixing the salaries of elected officials lies with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
However, he expressed dismay that lawmakers have disregarded this responsibility and instead chosen to determine their own salaries.
The 1999 Constitution (as amended) outlines in Paragraph 32(a-e) of Part I to the Third Schedule that the responsibility for determining the appropriate remuneration for political officeholders, including legislators, is vested in the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Obasanjo said, ‘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 revenue mobilisation commission, 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, it is neither constitutional nor moral.’
Obasanjo drew attention to the fact that numerous essential aspects of the Nigerian Constitution, including the Federal Character provision, were being ignored. He expressed his disappointment with the apparent lack of commitment by the Federal Character Commission in carrying out its function.
Obasanjo voiced his worry that when the constitution is persistently shunned in such a manner, it sabotages the essence of democracy, transforming it into a system where there are no constraints and any behavior can be tolerated.
‘You have met this world at a point, you have met your community at a point, you have met your family at a point and what you have done is that what you have met, you have made it better than what you have found,’ he added.
Obasanjo praised Aare Babalola for his outstanding commitment to the progress of the nation. He highlighted Babalola’s remarkable ability to surpass the existing conditions he encountered, making notable strides in various aspects of life.