After exactly two months of accusation, counter accusation and all manner of backlashes associated with the padding of the 2016 budget, the National Assembly is set to resume plenary today having exhausted its long recess.
On July 20, 2016, the lawmakers adjourned plenary to September 13, 2016, but were not able to resume on the latter date due the Eid-el- Kabir celebration.
Now that the National Assembly is set to resume the business of lawmaking, all eyes will certainly be on the federal lawmakers, especially in the House of Representatives where the speaker, deputy speaker and other principal officers have been accused of padding the budget discreetly and dishonestly to the tune of N100bn.
Shortly before the House embarked on its long recess, the speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, relieved the Committee Chairman on Appropriations, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin, representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano state of his position. In his place, Dogara appointed Hon Mustapha Bala Dawaki, representing Dawakin Kudu/ Warawa Federal Constituency of Kano state as Jibrin’s replacement.
After making a mess of the budget and completely sidelining members of his committees, pressure had been on the speaker to relieve Jibrin of his position due to the over 20 projects he allocated to his constituency in the 2016 budget, thus raising the total sum to about N4bn.
To the delight and relief of many lawmakers, the much-awaited sack of Jibrin eventually came on the very last day of its sitting. Knowing that Jibrin was one of the forces behind his emergence as speaker and a lawmaker that will not be an easy nut to crack, Dogara decided to ease out his former confidant from his position tactically so that, even if he fights back, he would have decipated his energies by the time the House finally resumes.
Of course, Jibrin did fought back and he is still fighting back. He has been blasting the leadership of the House, accusing the speaker of allegedly requested for the insertion of about N30 billion worth of personal projects in the controversial budget.
Jibrin accused Dogara of abusing his office, thus amounting to conflict of interest by soliciting for inappropriate favours from agencies and multinational companies. He also revealed that Dogara has refused members access to the financial dealings and internal budget of the House, adding that the speaker runs the financial management of the House like a cult.
As a way of telling the speaker and other principal officers to brace up for the worst, he has gone to the Nigerian Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC to submit what he claims to be a petition against the accused lawmakers.
He has even appeared before the Presidential Adisory Committee Against Corruption, led by Prof. Itse Sagay as well as the Special Investigative Panel, SIP led by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG Amodu Ali (retd) to prove his allegations.
As expected, the House has denied all the allegations by Jibrin against its leadership. The House Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Hon Abdurazak Namdas has revealed that the former appropriation committee chairman was found not to be fit and proper person to hold such a sensitive office. Namdas pointed out that the former committee chairman has the tendency and proclivity to blackmail colleagues and high government officials as well as misuse and mishandle sensitive government information.
He noted that speaker and the leadership were inundated with complaints by heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies over harassment from Jibrin to engage in conduct and acts unbecoming of their offices.
According to him, “His removal was based on sundry acts of misconduct, incompetence, total disregard for his colleagues and abuse of the budgetary process, among others.
“One of the fundamental reasons why the House leadership removed him is that, he was found not to be fit and proper person to hold such a sensitive office which exposes him to high officials of government at all levels.
“Furthermore, in the course of the performance of his duties as Chairman of Appropriations Committee, it became evident that he does not possess the temperament and maturity required for such a high office.
“He was in the habit of collating, warehousing and manipulating sensitive information to blackmail people sometimes apparently for pecuniary purposes. And by the virtue of his position as appropriations chairman, he meets with very high and senior public officers at all levels.
“The speaker and the leadership were inundated with complaints by heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over harassment from the House Appropriations Chairman to engage in conduct and acts unbecoming of their offices.
“The leadership lunched an internal investigation into these allegations and was largely satisfied that action had to be taken to remove him, in the interest of the integrity of the House.
“One clear example is the insertion of funds for the so called Muhammadu Buhari Film Village in his Constituency in Kano state without the consent or solicitation of Mr. President. This has brought both Mr. President and the government to disrepute.
“Again, it was found out that he was fond of inserting projects into prominent persons’ constituencies without their knowledge to curry favour and possibly use it as a means of blackmail against them when necessary.
“One of such is the numerous projects he claimed in a Channels TV interview in April 2016, to have cited in Mr. President’s home town of Daura, Katsina state without Mr. President’s solicitation or knowledge, in a desperate attempt to blackmail Mr. President as an answer and justification for allocation of N4.1 billion to his constituency when confronted by the interviewer.
“He did not stop there. Hon Abdulmumin went about soliciting Honourable members to nominate projects for him to help them include in the Budget. When called upon to defend his actions as Appropriation’s Chairman, all he did was to be calling names of those members and the amount he helped include for them in the budget in an unsuccessful bid to silence them.
“Most of the affected members took serious exceptions to his despicable antics and sundry acts of blackmail and protested to the leadership to prevail on Hon Abdulmumin to expunge from the budget what he claimed he allocated to them since they did not solicit for those projects.
“To attempt to drag the name of Mr President, Honourable members and others to his new low through sundry acts of blackmail was one of the matters the House leadership found off limits and totally unacceptable. It was also discovered that the former Chairman, Appropriations, discreetly and clandestinely allocated monies for projects that are not clearly defined in the budget for the purposes of exploiting the ambiguities for personal gains”.
Regrettably, all these allegations and counter allegations will come to the front burner at a time the House has debated and subsequently adopted a working instrument called “the legislative agenda” aimed at overall socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. It is believed that the legislative agenda will improve the governance process in Nigeria by legislating to cut the cost of running government, reduce wastage and tackle national revenue leakages.
In view of this, therefore, it only appears that the lawmakers are not backing their words with action if truly that the accused persons padded the budget discreetly and dishonestly without the knowledge of others.
No doubt, in view of the drama that unfolded while it was on recess, the lower chamber is set for a stormy session as the lawmakers begin sitting today. Many have been eagerly waiting for this day to come in order to eviscerate their tantrums and disappointments concerning the budget padding saga that has not only brought the Green Chamber on its knees, but also into disrepute.
All attempts by Jibrin to use external forces to compel the speaker to reconvene the House and resign so as to trash out the issues were not successful. Now that the House will finally resume today, the stake, anxiety and expectation are indeed high.
Interestingly, Nigerians are waiting with bated breath to see what will play out on the floor of the House today. JIbrin and other lawmakers that have called for the speaker to resign will definitely take the fight to the doorsteps of the speaker, accused principal officers and indeed other lawmakers. There are even plans by a group of lawmakers to move motion suspending Jibrin because of his unfounded and baseless allegations against the leadership of the House. Either way it goes, there is bound to be commotion and chaos on the floor of the House.
Obviously, the budget padding allegation has turn out to be a challenging and trying time for the House.While many are quite optimistic that the lower chamber will come out of the crisis much better, some others hold the view that if the House does not thread on the path of caution, the crisis will further criple the House as an institution.
Nigerians have become used to watching scenes of drama in the House. Throwing of punches, chairs and attempt to snatch the Mace (symbol of authority) will certainly play out again because of the seemingly divided interest raised by the budget padding saga.
Therefore, as the National Assembly resumes today, Nigerians and indeed the international community will be watching with keen interest to know how the budget mess can be resolved once and for all.

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