Budget Fiasco: Speaker Bows to Pressure, Removes Appropriation C’ttee Chairman

  • I resigned, insists Abdulmumim

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

After several months of holding out, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, finally bowed to pressure wednesday, when he announced the removal of Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumim as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, a committee considered top grade in the National Assembly.

Dogara has been under pressure to remove Abdulmumim due to the impasse that followed the passage of the 2016 budget by the National Assembly last April.

Abdulmumim and his counterpart in the Senate, Danjuma Goje, were alleged to have diverted billions of naira to projects in their constituencies in Kano and Gombe States, respectively, among other projects.

Their action was said to have irked President Muhammadu Buhari who refused to assent to the budget passed by the National Assembly on the grounds that most of the projects that the funds were rechannelled to by the Appropriation Committees, were not even viable, as feasibility studies had not been carried out on them.

Besides, most members of the National Assembly were unaware of the alterations by the Appropriation Committees and were surprised when THISDAY, which broke the story in April, spoke to them on the diversion of the budget votes.
Abdulmumim, however, told THISDAY yesterday after his ouster that he had approached the Speaker and expressed his desire to step down as chairman of the committee.

He insisted that all the allegations against him were baseless, as the budget could not have been worked on unilaterally.

Abdulmumim is considered one of the closest allies of Dogara due to the role he played during the leadership tussle in the House, when he was the spokesman of the Loyalists Group that backed Dogara for the post of speaker.
Following his removal, he was replaced with Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki who represents Dawakin Kudu/Warawa Federal Constituency also in Kano State.

Sources told THISDAY that the Speaker had been inundated with protests by other committee chairmen, their deputies and other members of the Appropriation Committee who demanded his removal, even after the dust raised by the budget controversy had settled.

“It was bound to happen because of the alleged distortions in the budget which was done without the knowledge of other chairmen of committees. But it was necessary to first sort out the budget and pass it first, and other issues on ground.

“Even some people from the executive branch were not happy with him and Senator Danjuma Goje,” a lawmaker, who preferred not to be named, told THISDAY wednesday.

But Abdulmumim, addressing a press conference after plenary yesterday, said despite the circumstances, his relationship with Dogara and the leadership of the House remained cordial.

He said he enjoyed being the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, but had to approach the Speaker to tender his resignation after consultations with his family.

Abdulmumim accepted responsibility for the issues with the 2016 budget, even though maintained that he was not at fault for the controversies that had followed the passage.

“There is no way an individual can write the whole budget of the country. It was collective work and a circle. The records are there. Internally, I have tried to explain this, but we are in a political atmosphere and people can say what they want to say.

“But the records are there and members can go through them for themselves,” he said.
He noted that it was practically impossible for somebody to accuse the Appropriation Committee of writing the budget for the National Assembly.

“I said I have taken responsibility for everything that happened even though I know that I was not at fault. I am happy that I am leaving without any blemish,” he said, adding that he had no regrets serving as the committee’s chairman.

He also expressed appreciation to the speaker for the opportunity given him to head one of the most coveted committees in the National Assembly.

“I would not shy away from the fact that there are a lot of issues in the House, and some of them I will share in due course… I was not forced to resign. I resigned of my own volition.

“But if anybody says I was forced to resign, then he has the responsibility to say why. If anybody has anything against me as chair of appropriation, let him tell me. I committed no fault, I committed no offence; I am sure Mr. Speaker himself was surprised when I told him (of my intention to resign),” the lawmaker said.