Thursday, July 21, 2016 11:00 pm
The sack of Abdulmumin Jibrin as the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation on Thursday by Speaker Yakubu Dogara seemed to be the kick needed to open the Pandora’s Box of the intrigues that marred the process of passage of the 2016 budget by the lower chamber of National Assembly.
Dogara had while announcing the removal of Jibrin on Wednesday said it is part of the clean up of the budgeting system, an assertion that obviously did not go down well the sacked Appropriation Committee Chairman.
While reacting to the claim in a statement issued on Thursday, Jibrin reiterated his conviction on the need to clean up the budgeting system considering what transpired during the passage of the 2016 appropriation plan.
The Kano Senator however added that with all the facts on what happened during the passage which he claimed he documented, the cleaning up of the process should begin with the resignation of Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and minority Leader Leo Ogor.
He then narrated why the three presiding officers should quit over the 2016 budget: “These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves 40billion naira out of the 100billion allocated to the entire National Assembly.
The four of them met and took that decision. In addition to billions of wasteful projects running over 20 billion they allocated to their constituencies.
“They must come out clean. My inability to admit into the budget almost 30 billion personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the 3 other principal officers also became an issue. I have every documented evidence to this effect.
“After the submission of the first version of the budget which was returned by Mr. President, I briefed members in executive session and told them as agreed at our pre budget meeting with chairmen and deputy chairmen of standing committees; we simply adopted their reports with little amendments. Nobody faulted my submission.
“Members insisted they must know how the N100 billion was allocated. I told them the truth. Since after that meeting, Mr Speaker with the support of the three other principal officers effectively blocked me from briefing members, ensured I was not at the last executive session and refused to investigate issues I raised that I believe must be addressed if we intend to build a better budget system for the House.
“I gave Mr. Speaker statistics of 2000 new projects introduced into the budget by less than 10 committee chairmen without the knowledge of their committee members he did nothing about it because he was part of the mess yet he is talking about improving the budget system.
“I did nothing wrong. I worked within the rules of the House and instructions of Mr. Speaker. During the budget period, Mr. President graciously granted myself and Sen. Goje audience.
It was a very good meeting. Speaker Dogara took it extremely personal that we saw the president without his knowledge and went on to scuttle all our efforts to help the president during the budget process because he wanted to be seen by the president as the only good man.
“He forgot that he sees heads of MDA’s daily which he enjoys doing more than his job as Speaker for reasons best known to him anyway, without Mr. President’s knowledge.
That is how petty and narrow minded Dogara can be. A coward, hypocrite and pretender of the highest order. Mr President must be very careful with him. He wines with Mr. President and dines with Mr. Presidents enemies. I am glad that I am finally free from his emotional blackmail of constantly trying to make me see my appointment as appropriation chairman as a favour.
He has failed to realise that I came a long way and even attained chairman finance when he was chairman House services before this appointment.
“Seeing as the Speaker claimed that they have taken the decision or were going to take decision to replace me, he now has a responsibility to tell the world why they took or were going to take such decision. I challenge them to tell the world why? I will be releasing a more detailed statement in due course.
“Meanwhile, I intend to explore all internal avenues of the House to brief my colleagues in detail and testify against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority leader Leo Ogor on why they should resign.
“If I am not allowed to exercise my privilege, I shall consider legal options. I can no longer bear the brunt of abuses and baseless allegations keeping quiet all in the name of “confidentiality” expected of an appropriation chairman. I will not allow anybody no matter how highly placed to destroy my life as intended by the full statement of Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
“Now Nigerians will see clearly the ulterior motive behind the desperate moves for immunity for principal officers of the National Assembly.
As chairman of Appropriation Committee, Jibrin ran into controversies during the National Assembly’s work on the 2016 Budget as he was accused of padding the document with projects worth over N4 billion domiciled in his Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency.
This was in addition to another surreptitious allocation of N40 billion worth of projects to the leaderships of the Appropriations Committees of both chambers of the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari had refused to sign the budget until most of the padding was removed with the help of a 15 member harmonisation Committee set up by the National Assembly.
The scandal had led to calls for removal of Jibrin as the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee.
Many believed Jibrin’s resignation was a fallout of the of the budget scandal.
While briefing the press soon after his resignation was announced on Wednesday, the Kano lawmaker agreed that there was indeed a problem with which the way the 2016 budget was handled, but he insisted that his resignation was a personal decision.
While insisting that he has done no wrong, the lawmaker promised to reveal what reveal transpired during the consideration of the 2016 budget later, “so that we can also learn collectively and see how we can move the system forward.”
Jibrin insisted that he did his best as the Chairman Appropriations Committee, challenging anybody with a contrary view to come forward with evidence: “And as it is until date, nobody has raised any issue against me.
“And that has been the case even while I was Chairman Finance. For four years, I was chairman Finance and I executed my responsibility diligently and I left an unblemished record.”
Jibrin said still, he will take responsibility for the obstacles that marred the passage of the 2016 budget.
“Even if I’m not at fault, it’s only proper that I take the responsibility. I believe that the best thing I should do under the circumstances is to step aside so that the committee can move forward.”
The Kano lawmaker had also strongly opposed the proposal to grant immunity to presiding officers of National Assembly when it was debated in the House last week.
He even displayed placard with the inscription “No to immunity” at the National Assembly.
The Speaker had claimed that Jibrin voluntarily quit his position as chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, citing the work load associated with the job.
Jibrin in the statement issued on Thursday agreed that he indeed went to the Speaker to indicate his intention to resign as the chairman of the Appropriation Committee.
But he picked hole in the manner the Speaker announced his resignation on the floor of the House.
But he added that the manner of the announcement indicated that the Speaker would have preferred that he sacked him, a plan which he said was in the offing before he offered to resign.
“The plan is to execute it just before the recess so that by the time we return I would have been buried and the issue forgotten.
“Mr Speaker, this issue will never be swept under the carpet. We are closing for recess with it and we shall commence the next session with this issue. This was the last option they had after every attempt to find something to nail me failed.
“It is a known fact that I am a very blunt person by nature. I don’t know how to pretend. I don’t do eye service neither will I ever be a sycophant. I don’t give returns. I just do my job faithfully and dedicatedly”.
“My offence was asserting my independence and insisting that we do the right thing at all times and expose corrupt people in the House,” said Jibrin.