NASS, Dogara, Jibrin And 110 Million Poor Nigerians | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NASS, Dogara, Jibrin And 110 Million Poor Nigerians

Posted: Jul 28, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By kingsley Ighomwenghian


As usual, on Tuesday afternoon, I had several talk-points for this piece and indeed made up my mind to write (speak) on the commissioning of the newly constructed standard gauge Lagos-Kaduna line, at the cost of $8.3 billion, 10 years after the Olusegun Obasanjo administration awarded it in 2006.

We are told that the Rail Modernisation project of Lagos-Ibadan dual tract, awarded on July 18, 2012 and meant for completion in 2015 at the sum of $1.457 billion was abandoned after $13 billion was appropriated in the yearly budgets of between 2012 and 2014 with nothing to show.

Just then, there came a ‘matter of urgent national importance’ as legislators would say: The ongoing dishonourable tragic-comedy that is fast depleting what is left of the moral currency of our House of Representatives and, indeed, the National Assembly. It is known that Senate President Abubakar Olubukola Saraki, successor-king of Kwara politics, two-term governor of the State and son of the Second Republic Senate Leader in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) days, has not left the court of public opinion since last year.


He has been hopping between the hallowed chambers of the Senate and various court rooms to answer to charges of tampering with Senate Rules prior to his emergence and false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Now last week, following his Wednesday, July 20, 2016, removal from the ‘powerful’ position of chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin (pardon my non-use of their prefix ‘Honourable’), started singing like the canary, dragging the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara to the court of public opinion.

He alleged that he was removed for frustrating attempts by the House leadership to pad the 2016 budget with constituency projects worth over N40 billion…See why the 2016 budget was unnecessarily delayed?

Yet, when President Muhammadu Buhari complained that the Appropriation Bill he presented had been tampered with beyond his capacity to implement, some described him in unprintable words.

The scenario is reminiscent of another hit song – ‘Authority Stealing’ by legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti: “You be thief… I no be thief… you be rogue…you be amuroba… argument, argument, argument, argue…”

 On Tuesday, the House opted to follow, its estranged member to the public domain, by recounting events leading to his removal, and in the process and questioning his “fit and properness” to hold such sensitive position.

The House at a media parley addressed by Abdulrazak Namdas, its spokesman, came close to wondering how members of Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency in Kano found nobody better to represent them in the hallowed chambers than Jibrin, the 39- year-old PhD holder in International Relations (2009) from the University of Abuja, and former International Relations lecturer at the Nasarawa State University, who also holds an MBA from the Swiss Business School, Zurich, Switzerland, among others.

The House argued on its twitter handle, that Jibrin’s “removal was based on sundry acts of misconduct, incompetence, total disregard for his colleagues, lack of temperament and maturity to hold such position and abuse of the budgetary process, among others.”

He is also accused of being “in the habit of collating, warehousing and manipulating sensitive information to blackmail people sometimes apparently for pecuniary purposes. And by 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).”

According to Namdas, Dogara acted within his powers, to appoint and remove committee officials, consulting with the House Leadership, just as the National Assembly is empowered to appropriate as contained in Sections 4, 59 and 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.

He insisted that “the removal, introduction of projects or the amendment of Mr. President’s (budget) estimates should never be construed as an act of corruption or impropriety…”

He then accused Jibrin of exhibiting ignorance, abuse of language, outright mischief and or blackmail, for using the word “padding” to describe a parliamentary action on the budget.

Jibrin had, on Monday, noted that the House had been hijacked by a cabal comprising Dogara; his Deputy, Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Ado Doguwa; and Minority leader, Leo Ogor, that “has promoted corruption so badly in the House that if President Muhammadu Buhari, with his disdain for corruption and corrupt people have the slightest idea, he will ban the quartet permanently from the Villa before they eventually allow for proper and unbiased investigation by the House.”

Dogara, he alleged, has consistently run the financial dealings and internal budget of the House like a cult, aided and abated by the Chairman, House Services, Babanlle Ila, of which he wants the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Dogara’s tenure as Chairman, House Services, in both the 6th and 7th Assembly.

You can now understand where the N115 billion and more appropriated to the National Assembly over the past five or six years had been going and why investigation has become a must.

You now see why the calls for #OpenNASS championed by BudgIT and others have not made sense to the management of NASS? Do you still wonder why the emolument of national legislators remains a closely guarded secret over the years in a country of 110 million poor people, with double-digit unemployment rate? Even Saraki is yet to fulfil his promise of a transparent Senate.

Last line: There is need at this time to once more prove that power belongs to the people by compelling NASS to allow for probe of its finances. I think we should be considering a part-time legislature as once proposed. This too shall pass, definitely!