Accessibility links

Obasanjo Spending Probe Under Way - 2002-03-06

In Nigeria, a commission of the lower house of the National Assembly is carrying out an inquiry on the spending habits of President Olusegun Obasanjo's government. Political analysts say the launching of the probe this week is yet another sign of an increasingly troubled relationship between the legislative branch and the Nigerian president.

The 11-member commission is to scrutinize how the Nigerian government has been using public funds since Olusegun Obasanjo took office in 1999.

The commission was set up following passage of a strongly worded motion last month that accused the Obasanjo administration of being rife with corruption and ineptitude.

Political analysts in Nigeria say the lower chamber's decision to set up the commission was an act of retaliation against the president as part of an ongoing dispute President Obasanjo and lawmakers.

President Obasanjo angered members of the lower chamber recently when he requested to see details of the lawmakers' salaries, benefits and other compensation. Members of the lower house refused to disclose the information, saying the pesident had no right to see it.

The president responded by saying he would not sign off on the release of funds for the lower house's operations.

The lower house commission will carry out its investigation over the coming weeks before it issues a report. Depending on its findings, the inquiry could lead to impeachment proceedings against President Obasanjo. Analysts, however, say this is not likely because the senate, which would have to ratify the measure, has voiced its disapproval of the motion.

Mr. Obasanjo, whose election three years ago ended a long succession of military rule in Nigeria, has been under growing public pressure. Many Nigerians, who enthusiastically voted for Mr. Obasanjo and the return to civilian rule in 1999, have been growing increasingly impatient over what they say is the government's inability to quickly resolve the country's problems of corruption, unemployment, and festering ethnic and religious tensions.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is one of the world's leading producers of oil, yet nearly half of its people live below the poverty line.