Convener of Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, on Wednesday said former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration raised the bar of corruption in the country, notwithstanding the ex-President’s “supposed achievements” in office.
Bakare spoke in Lagos as the guest lecturer at the 10th Chief Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture/Symposium, organised by the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.
The event, with the theme, ‘Nigeria at centenary: A nation still in bondage?,’ was chaired by former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (retd.).
Salami at the occasion called for the separation of the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria from that of the Chairman of the National Judicial Council.
The Chief Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture/ Symposium by the Ikeja NBA, which started in 2004, is organised to celebrate the virtues of the late legal icon, who later died on September 5, 2009 at 71.
In his lecture, Bakare said Obasanjo raised the bar of corruption to an unimaginable level.
He said, “Media was censored, outspoken critics were targeted and judicial decisions were subjected to executive interpretations. Meanwhile, Obasanjo himself raised the mountain of corruption to an unimaginable level.
“As apathy set in among the electorate, General Obasanjo, indignant that he could not foist third term agenda on Nigeria, imposed sick president on the nation through a fraudulent election, I beg your pardon, selection, overseen by Prof. Maurice Iwu.”
He said Obasanjo’s supposed achievement in office had no significant impact on the people’s lives.
Bakare, who expressed support for “a people-driven” national conference, said the atmosphere of abundance created when Obasanjo assumed office in 1999, provided a breeding ground for personal aggrandisement across government levels.
The Congress for Progressive Change presidential running mate in the 2011 election said, “The atmosphere of abundance provided the breeding ground for personal aggrandisement as politicians, from the Presidency to the state and local governments, helped themselves to the nation’s resources.
“Then, complacency set in as General Obasanjo, satisfied with his supposed achievements, which however did not reflect significantly in the living condition of the average Nigerian, sought to perpetuate himself in power and so unleashed the machinery of state against perceived enemies among the political class.”
As a way forward, Bakare suggested that the Federal Government’s proposed national conference must be made to a people-driven constitutional conference where the defects in the nation’s federal structure could be corrected in a new constitution that truly belonged to the people.
“Justice Ayo Salami is a victim of defective federal structure,” Bakare said, while responding to questions after his lecture.
Salami said his suspension from the bench, which lasted till his retirement in 2013, and the events that followed were meant to humiliate him.
His call for separation of the office of the CJN from that of NJC chairman arose from his observation that courts were working under potential intimidation by higher judicial authorities.
Obasanjo’s spokesman, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye, on Wednesday declined to comment but referred one of our correspondents, who spoke to him on the phone, to the ex-President for his comment.
“Please meet Baba himself. I cannot say anything on that. Please I am driving,” Oladunjoye said.