Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, criticized the salaries received by members of the National Assembly, considering them not in line with the recommendations of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.
Obasanjo expressed his concern that those responsible for implementing Nigeria’s constitution undermined the country’s democracy.
According to Obasanjo, “The Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution, should determine the salaries and benefits of National Assembly members. However, they disregarded the constitution and decided to set their salaries.”
The former president made these remarks during a lecture titled “The future of constitutional democracy in Nigeria: Imperative of a new constitutional Order” delivered by Bishop Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, in Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State.
As part of the celebration of Aare Afe Babalola’s (SAN) 60th call to the bar anniversary, Obasanjo emphasized the importance of respecting and implementing the constitution to strengthen democracy and ensure citizens’ well-being.
Obasanjo stated, “Democracy means nothing to a hungry man, a man whose life is in danger, or whose property is being destroyed.”
Afe Babalola (SAN) expressed gratitude to the attendees, including dignitaries, friends, and family members during the event. He reiterated his belief that the 1999 constitution could not foster good governance in Nigeria due to its inherent flaws, which can only be rectified by drafting a new constitution.
Babalola advocated for improved salary packages for judges in the country, noting that the current remuneration needs to be increased to attract Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to the bench.
In his lecture, Bishop Kukah emphasized the need for integrity among judiciary members, particularly those at the Supreme Court. He urged the federal government to avoid bias and sentimentality in pursuing democratic progress, stressing the importance of selfless service and equitable development.
Kukah criticized leaders who prioritize development solely in their hometowns, stating that such actions do not align with democratic principles and hinder progress. He called for national institutions to represent the country, promoting equality and imposing sanctions on those undermining democracy and the constitution.
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) urged President Bola Tinubu to take a leadership role in the fight against corruption. Falana highlighted the dangerous extent to which corruption has permeated society, emphasizing the need for the president to spearhead the anti-corruption campaign and restore Nigeria’s standing among nations.
Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State described Afe Babalola as a gift to the state. He acknowledged Babalola’s instrumental role in the creation of the state and expressed gratitude on behalf of himself and his predecessors for providing a platform for their governance.