Posted by Reuters on
Nigerian senators threatened to adjourn indefinitely on Tuesday unless President Olusegun Obasanjo sacks a key ministerial ally and economic reformer they accuse of corruption.
ABUJA, Nigeria (Reuters) -- Nigerian senators threatened to adjourn indefinitely on Tuesday unless President Olusegun Obasanjo sacks a key ministerial ally and economic reformer they accuse of corruption.
A senate motion adopted on Tuesday asked Obasanjo to sack the minister for the Abuja Federal Capital Territory, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, within 48 hours or face a walkout.
Senators accuse el-Rufai, a key ally in Obasanjo's quest to reform the stagnating economy of Africa's biggest oil producer, of abusing his ministerial powers by hiring extra members for his cabinet and overpaying them.
"The senate hereby adopts that Mr. President should relieve the minister of the Federal Capital Territory ... of his position ... within 48 hours," senate president Adolphus Wabara announced in the National Assembly.
"In the event the president refuses, the senate will adjourn plenary sessions until that is done," he added.
Despite Obasanjo's ruling People's Democratic Party having a massive majority in the National Assembly, the president is often checked by the lawmakers, who have tried to impeach him several times.
Many lawmakers resent plans by Obasanjo's economic team to reform key sectors of the economy and tighten audits on spending by state and local governments, many of whom have connections to members of the assembly.
Former privatization minister el-Rufai has also angered many wealthy politicians in Abuja by voiding several land title deeds in the Federal Capital Territory he says have been forged.
El-Rufai called the senators "fools" after a senatorial committee on public accounts last week asked him to refund to the public purse the extra money spent on his staff.
The senate's motion could upset Obasanjo's plans to move ahead with key reforms such as a bill to remove the powers of Nigeria's strike-prone labor unions.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is ranked by Berlin-based graft watchdog Transparency International as being the world's second most corrupt country.
Many Nigerians say political patronage and bribe-taking has increased since 15 years of military rule ended in 1999, as politicians struggle to keep the loyalties of political players cutting across ethnic and religious lines.
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