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Budget Padding: Another Family Affair?

Posted: Aug 10, 2016 at 2:11 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

“In reality, in terms of merit or the interest of Nigeria, there is no fundamental difference between the PDP and the APC. How can you fight corruption with corrupt leadership? It is not possible. You cannot do it because you are also corrupt. They are not free from being corrupt. About 80 per cent of APC and PDP leaders are all before the three anti-corruption agencies, ICPC, EFCC and Code of Conduct. So, you can see that they cannot fight corruption because they are corrupt” –  Balarabe Musa

“Corruption, especially political corruption, is perhaps the biggest threat to sustainable development, especially in Nigeria today. Corruption has been, and continues to be, a destructive element in the governance of Nigeria and the perception of the country in the comity of nations. The negative effects of corruption on Nigeria’s growth are numerous” – John Odigie- Oyegun, National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC).

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) came to power riding on a great tide of goodwill. One of the lofty promises made by the party which won it the 2015 presidential election is that it will wage a total and relentless war against corruption, which is believed by many to be the major bane of progress and development in the country.

However, there has been a widespread criticism against the anti-corruption war of the ruling party. Some analysts have decried the continued hounding of the opposition, especially members of the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party while several petitions against notable leaders of the APC are not given due considerations.

However, recent action by the party on the budget padding sandal rocking the House of Representatives shows that it is not in any way different from the PDP which described  as a “family affair” the abduction of Chris  Ngige, the then governor of Anambra state by some powerbrokers led by his estranged godfather, Chris  Uba on July 10, 2003.

APC Wades Into Scandal

The ruling party finally broke its silence over the scandal when it wrote letter to Abdulmumuni Jibrin, a former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation and member of the party on Monday, summoning him to appear before a disciplinary committee at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja not later than Tuesday afternoon.

In the letter, dated August 1, 2016, and signed by the party’s Deputy National Chairman for the Northern Zone, Lawal Shuaibu, the APC cautioned Jibrin over his media campaign against the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers over allegation of budget fraud.

In the letter by its Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, the party decried the media war between the two APC lawmakers without consulting the party for resolution.

The letter read in part, “As a disciplined party, the constitution of our party has made adequate provisions on ways of resolving any issue among members. It behoves the party to take all necessary steps to ensure that no member of our family brings dishonour on the party.

“You are, therefore, by this invitation, expected to appear before the undersigned at the APC national secretariat on Tuesday, August 2, at 2pm.

“Kindly note that failure to and/or refusal to honour this invitation will amount to a decision you have made not to submit to the party. To say the least, it is absolutely unacceptable to resort to media war as a means of settling scores without recourse to and/or exhausting the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanism,” the party said.

Despite meeting with the party on  Tuesday and given a stern warning to sheathe his sword by refraining from further comments which has brought the party and the hallowed chamber into disrepute, Jibrin, who is hell-bent on pulling down Dogara from his exalted position took to his social media page on Wednesday  where he alleged that committee chairmen and other members of the House had received $25,000 each from Speaker Yakubu Dogara to pass a vote of confidence in his leadership.

Jibrin, who made the bribery allegation on his twitter handle in reaction to reports suggesting that the signatures were being collected from lawmakers to pass a vote of confidence that would shield the speaker from any possible impeachment move when the House reconvenes said: “Fellow Nigerians, in a desperate attempt, Speaker Dogara and the three others have opened a register for a vote of confidence signature.

“The register is opened at his Asokoro guest house, located at Wilberforce Juta Crescent. Hon members are given $25,000 to sign. This disgraceful act is coordinated by Hon. Zakari Mohammed, Hon Jagaba Adams Jagaba and DCOS (Deputy Chief of Staff) to Mr Speaker, Hon CID Maduabum. It is a shame that Mr. Speaker has not responded to any of the allegations raised against him, but has resorted to looking for fraudulent cover,” he said.

Apparently miffed by  Jibrin’s audacity, the APC national leadership yesterday ordered him to stop speaking on the controversial budget padding issue, saying the party found the development embarrassing.

In a letter addressed to Jubrin with referenced APC/NHDQ/NAM/01/016/14, dated 4th August, 2016 and signed by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, the party said it has decided to wade into the matter with a view to finding solution to it.

The party ask him not to issue and public statement either through the social media or any other means of passing information to the public and commended him for honoring the party’s invitation and pledge to work with the party in resolving the matter.

The letter reads: “As you are aware, the party and indeed the government have not been happy over recent developments in the House of Representatives over the issue of the 2016 budget. We found it embarrassing to have to deal with another new phenomenon you tagged ‘budget padding’.

“However, I write to thank you for your cooperation in honouring our intervention and your readiness to afford the party the chance to handle the House of Representatives budget padding crisis.

“Arising from the series of meetings we held with you over the subject matter, the National Working Committee had decided to request you to henceforth aviod issuing public statement on this matter.

“This however includes statements through the social media or other means of transmitting an opinion on the matter to the public, as the party is now looking into it towards finding possible solution. While counting on your cooperation, please accept my sincere best wishes”.

Nigerians Blast Party

Speaking on the development, former National Secretary of Labour Party (LP), Kayode Ajulo, who condemned the party’s threat to Jibrin warned the APC not to sweep the issue under the carpet. According to him, the issue of family- affair is anti-democracy.

“That statement by APC that Jibrin should refrain from speaking on the issue should stand condemned.  The essence of democracy is for the people. It is a government of the people and not just for a few cabal”.

“That is what the APC is reducing democracy to by making such statement.  If you remember, this is one of the things that led to the downfall of the PDP by turning national issues to family affair.  The issue of family matter is anti-democracy” he said.

Also reacting, the KOWA party, through Jude ‘Feranmi , its National Youth Leader condemned the action of the APC saying it will be a setback to  President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti- corruption war.

“As is evident to all and sundry, the only sector that has seen a lot of political will from this APC Led administration is the fight against corruption irrespective of what has been achieved and how effective the war is being fought with the unrelenting search for oil in the North Eastern part of the country coming a close second”.

“Should the All Progressives Congress end up finding this solution that they have now started to search for in what is likely to manifest as a sweeping under the carpet of these allegations, the fight against corruption would not just have been set back, it would now be seen as what Nigerians have been suspecting it of being, an act of vendetta that is targeted only at those not within Mr. President’s circle of influence” the party said.

Temidayo Akinsuyi