Dogara’s Many Headaches As Reps Resume Plenary Today | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Dogara’s Many Headaches As Reps Resume Plenary Today

Posted: Sep 20, 2016 at 3:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
  • Stormy  Session Expected As  House Resumes




Abuja – The House of Representatives is set to resume plenary session, Tuesday after nearly eight weeks of annual recess during which lawmakers were thrown into serious controversies arising from allegations against the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, his Deputy, Yussuf Lasun, the Whip, Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor on their roles leading to the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

From the foregoing, the pending and unanswered questions of abuse of office and corruption arising from budget padding allegations await the Bauchi-born lawmaker and Speaker of the 8th House of Reps among other plethora of issues ranging from the call for his impeachment, votes of confidence, suspension or otherwise of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the former chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, the crippling economic recession, heightened insecurity, unemployment as well as the IDP malnutrition crisis in the Northeast.

Budget Padding Controversy

Although, some feeble attempts may have been made to salvage the embarrassing situation by concerned lawmakers in the damaging issue of abuse of office and leadership corruption in the House of Representatives, the core issues raised by Speaker Dogara’s accuser have remained untackled. It is therefore to be expected if the Dogara-led leadership will give satisfactory responses or explanations to his colleagues regarding its role in the N40b allegedly cornered by the Speaker and 4 other principal officers in the 2016 budget according to Jibrin.

Vote of Confidence

One of the likely things to happen on the floor of the House upon resumption will be for the leadership to gun for a vote of confidence as had been clamoured for in the course of the recess by many pro-Dogara lawmakers in the House as a means of sending a signal to possible deviants who may be nursing the ambition to over-reach themselves and push for the Speaker’s resignation or outright impeachment. It was learnt that this group have been meeting with the Speaker and other affected members of the leadership outside the country and have advanced their game plan which also include automatic suspension of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Counter Votes

Also standing to counter-act the pro-Dogara vote of confidence move are the anti-Dogara lawmakers under the auspices of the Transparency or Integrity Group who claimed to have gathered over 200 signatures to call for the Speaker’s resignation, even though, not much has been heard from them in the past couple of weeks. Feelers available to Independent suggest that these groups of members have been meeting both within and outside Abuja to strategise on how to get their ways by pushing for a change of guard in the House leadership via a vote of no confidence.

This group are also said to be poised for a showdown in resisting any move to suspend Jibrin without subjecting him to the due process of fair hearing by the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges. This resistance according to an impeccable source was further strengthened by Jibrin’s letter to colleagues stating reasons why he engage the leadership in a media war. While pro-dogara lawmakers may cash-in on Jibrin’s explanations via his letter which in their view automatically fore-closes any option of referral to the House Ethics Committee, their anti-Dogara colleagues will capitalise of the House standing rule that makes it mandatory for a member to be given a fair fearing before any disciplinary action can be taken against him/her .

Economic Recession

Also prominent on the front burner of the House priority list is the current recession that has placed the growth and development of Nigeria on a reverse gear. The lawmakers who are not immuned from the adverse effects of the recession have been speaking in different capacities on the issue and suggesting ways of solving the problems. To this end, they have prepared motions to be placed on notice or under matters of urgent public importance relating to different sectors of the economy with recommended actions aimed at improving their productivity. This also brings back the relevance of the “Sectoral Debate” concluded and adopted by the House as one of its working documents with regards to issues of effective oversight aimed at holding the executive arm to its promise of pursuing holistic diversification of the economy.

The House is also burdened with a pending executive Bill aimed at giving emergency powers to the President to enable him carry out stimulus policies that would take the economy out of the ongoing recession. On this, members have expressed divergent views regarding it’s necessity. While some have argued against it by expressing fears that it is likely to give too much powers to the President, raising the possibility of bringing out more dictatorial behaviour in him, others likened the move to President Obama of the United States who made similar move using the 2009 “Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill”, which was applied to reflate the US economy after the 2008 meltdown occasioned by the Morgan Chase mortgage scandal.


In the course of the last 7 weeks that the recess lasted, incidences of kidnapping, herdsmen attacks, the unending Chibok girls saga, bombing of oil installations by militants in the Niger Delta and the militarization of the region by the federal government have all joined the queue of agenda setting discourse in the polity. All these have formed the basis for motions and debate on the floor and the Speaker must rise above personal political survival to dispassionately put in perspective.

On the general issue of insecurity, the House is also obliged to possible address complaints by lawmakers from the Southern end of Nigeria, especially as they relate to militancy and government approach to the curbing it so far. Reports of arm confrontation, intimidation and harassment of Nigerians in different Niger Delta communities have surfaced in the media with casualty figures both on the side of the military and civilian said to be on the high side. The South East is not left out as pro-Biafra agitators were said to have been killed and many others injured by security operatives while holding procession marking the civil war anniversary.

Internally Displaced  Peoples (IDPs)

Also dear to the Speaker and by extension, the 8th House legislative agenda is the welfare and rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Northeast with report harrowing incedence of diversion of materials meant for their upkeep leading to serious malnutrition; a scandal which had seen heads roll in the Borno State Civil service, including a commissioner. The Dogara-led House will in this instance not hesitate to set up an investigative committee to probe the development which has put the lives of thousands of IDPs in danger.


Another headache awaiting the Dogara-led House of Reps is the often rejected National Assembly Budget and Research Office Establishment Bill (otherwise known as the NABRO Bill). The bill which was one of the early bills passed and sent to the executive for assent since 2003 had been returned unsigned by successive governments for inexplicable reasons; a situation which may have been further heightened by the yet-to-be resolved padding scandal rocking the leadership of the House.

The absence of the Act has placed some serious question mark in the competence and credibility of the National Assembly to appropriate money for the nation’s government even though the powers to appropriate is derived from the constitution.
However, the legal question on the lips of policy experts is that, by what means does the National Assembly display its authority or expertise in the art of appropriating money for the federal government and it’s MDAs; bearing in mind the absence of the Budget and Research office that is supposed to be it’s cerebral backbone in budget matters.

Observers have condemned the use of consultants to do the job for which NABRO had been conceptualised to handle, describing the practise as self-serving and illegal. It therefore behoves the Speaker and his Senate counterpart to expedite action on the re-presented bill to be passed with equal amount of effort at persuading the President to sign it into law as any further delay may still see the same fate befalling the serially rejected document.

Constituency Projects

One other headache before the Speaker as the House reconvenes today is the general misconception about constituency projects. Many have had cause to believe that the concept of constituency project is ill-motivated as it has been seen as an avenue for lawmakers to line their individual pockets via diversion of monies disbursed as quarterly constituency allowances.

Lending credence to this disposition is the budget padding controversy where about 10 committee chairmen allegedly inserted 2000 projects worth N284billion. Here, the onus still lies on the Speaker and his colleagues to disabuse the mindset of doubters by making the idea behind constituency projects look what it seems, the process of advancing the developmental needs of communities which hitherto did not feel the impact of government through dividends of democracy. In doing this, the Speaker should convince Nigerians that the allegation of using constituency projects to steal from the people is not true, using documented evidence before investigators as has been demanded by analysts.