Accuses speaker, principal officers of N40bn unilateral budgetary allocations Dogara
dismisses allegations, says it’s prerogative of selection c’ttee to remove and appoint chairmen
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
In a complete u-turn from his positions that his relationship with the leadership of the House of Representatives was cordial, the erstwhile Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Abdulmumim Jibrin, has accused Speaker Yakubu Dogara and three other principal officers of the House of unilaterally allocating to themselves N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated to the entire National Assembly in the 2016 budget.
Calling for the resignation of the Speaker whose actions, he said contributed to the budget impasses, Abdulmumim also accused the Speaker of desperately pushing for the insertion of immunity for presiding officers of the legislature, in Section 308 of the 1999 constitution, to protect himself.
The other principal officers fingered by Abdulmumim are Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun; Chief Whip, Hon. Al-Hassan Ado Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor. Abdulmumim, considered one of the closes allies of the Speaker was removed as Appropriation Committee Chairman last Wednesday, and replaced with Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki also from Kano State following allegations that he unilaterally allocated projects worth N4.1billion to his Kiru/Bebeji constituency.
Maintaining his innocence, the lawmaker said he was willing to explore legal options to clear his name if he is not given the chance to internally testify against the Speaker and the other principal officers.
In a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, Abdulumim said his refusal to cover up the actions, and to be silent over the allocation of wasteful projects worth N20 billion to their constituencies, put him at loggerheads with the House leadership.
“My inability to admit into the budget almost N30 billion personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the three other principal officers also became an issue,” he said.
These, Abdulmumim noted, resulted in him being blackmailed by Dogara, who he said constantly reminded him that occupying the coveted position of Chairman on Appropriation Committee, was a favour.
He added that he had explained to his colleagues how the N100billion for the National Assembly was allocated at one of the closed door sessions, and has since been blocked from briefing members on the matter.
“I gave the 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 the Speaker,” he said.
Dogara also took offence at a meeting the President had with the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committee on Appropriation, while working on the budget, Abdulumim alleged, and urged the president to be wary.
“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 said.
The statement read in full: “I am obliged to make further statement after listening to the full statement of Speaker Yakubu Dogara on why I had to leave as Chairman of Appropriation. It is a fact I went up to the Speaker and told him clearly I wanted to leave. He confirmed this in his statement but it appeared he wished he had fired me instead of my personal decision to step down.”
“Thereafter, I proceeded to my office. I was therefore not surprised when my aide walked into my office to inform me that the Speaker had announced my departure. I was relieved and went straight to address the press and released a statement. It was only later in the evening while monitoring the news that I watched the full statement he made on the floor. Dogara’s statement was a complete misrepresentation of the facts, false, mischievous, unfair and a calculated attempt to bring my name to disrepute, blackmail, silence and use me as a scapegoat.
“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.
“Lately, I openly disagreed with some principal officers on the issue of immunity for ;\lawmakers and budget issues. I still maintained I will never support immunity. I strongly believe with every conviction that in cleaning up the budgeting system and considering what transpired during 2016 budget which I have all the facts documented, Dogara, Deputy Speaker, Lasun Whip Doguwa and minority Leader Leo Ogor should resign. “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 N40billion 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 the Speaker and the three 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 the 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. No body faulted my submission. Members insisted they must know how the N100 billion was allocated. I told them the truth. Since after that meeting, the 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 the 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.”
“I will be releasing a more detailed statement in due course.s of the National Assembly.”
However, the House through its Chairman on Media and Publicity, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, said the ‘wild allegations’ made by Abdulmumim against Speaker and the principal officers, over the budget, are non issues.
Namdas, in a statement, said it is the prerogative of the Selection Committee of the House to appoint and remove committee chairmen, a power that has been so exercised in the case of Abdulmumin as Chairman of Appropriation Committee. “Most of the allegations on the 2016 budget process and his opposition to immunity of presiding officers are non issues and mere afterthought, manufactured simply because the House relieved him of his position. If he had all these ‘facts’ before ,why didn’t he make them public? Why is he doing that now?” the statement read.
“Abdulmumin Jibrin, like any other member of the House knows that there are conventions and precedents as it relates to budgets and projects for principal officers of the National Assembly. Why is he making it an issue now? In any case, he is entitled to his opinion as a Nigerian and as a legislator while acting within the laws of Nigeria and rules of the House,” it added.
Namdas insisted that Abdulmumim was not removed because of his opposition to the immunity bill, where he (Abdulmumim) had brandished an improvised placard which read “No Immunity.”
“Afterall he is not the only one who opposed the bill. The bill is still pending before committee on review of constitution and it has to be voted upon by each and every member of the House, get Senate concurrence, endorsed by two-third of the 36 state Houses of Assembly and be assented to by the President. It is a cheap blackmail on the part of Jibrin to even insinuate that he was removed because he opposed immunity bill,” Namdas said.
“He should not distract the House from giving legislative support on important issues facing the government concerning the revival of the economy, insecurity in the country, pursuit of anti-corruption measures, poverty alleviation, infrastructural development etc. The Nigerian people are simply not ready to waste their time on personal issues and personal egos of our leaders. We should face the urgent tasks before us for which we were elected,” he added.