- Committee members collected $20,000 each, alleges Abdulmumin
Ndume: Spats, an embarrassment to National Assembly
By Tobi Soniyi and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation have disassoci- ated themselves from what they described as a calculated plot by its former Chairman, Jibrin Abdulmumin to pull down the integrity of the leadership and members of the eighth House.
The members alleged that Abdulmumin unilaterally worked on the budget alongside consultants he engaged at an undisclosed location.
Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Chris Azubogu at a press conference yesterday expressed disappointment at the conduct of Abdulmumin who had launched a media onslaught against Speaker Yakubu Dogara and three principal officers of the House.
Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhasssan Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor of allocating N40 billion from the National Assembly budget to themselves, and other fraudulent actions.
He, Abdulmumin, had constantly allotted all the actions and decisions of the Committee to himself without conferring with the members, Azubogu said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state that a comprehensive collation of the reports of the budget from the various standing commit- tees of the House was done by the Appropriation Committee which was in the process of deliberation when the ousted Chairman unilaterally high- jacked the entire budget to a hideout with his consultant without the consent of the committee,” he said.
“That was the last time the
committee saw the budget only for Abdulmumin to resurface about three weeks later, with a report purported to have come from the committee,” Azubogu added.
The Deputy Chairman disclosed that the members approached Dogara and demanded the removal of Abdulmumin as Chairman, but the Speaker appealed for calm and promised to resolve the matter amicably.
“In his usual recalcitrant manner, Abdulmumin preferred the confrontational approach which irked the members to request for his urgent removal from office. This request was overwhelmingly supported by the entire House…Mr. Speaker had no choice than to act accordingly in order to maintain the integrity of the whole House,” he added.
Azubogu noted that Ab- dulmumin, working on the
budget with consultants is not criminal, but that the members were unhappy that they were not allowed to do their work.
He added that the end product of the unilateral activity is what resulted in the impasse that led to the constitution of the harmonisation committee to rework the budget.
Also speaking, Hon. Dickson Tarkighir, said even though the members did not all work on the budget, as long as it was adopted by the entire House and passed, then the integrity is not affected.
He also noted that there was no issue known as budget pad- ding in legislative parlance as the institution is constitutionally empowered to make amend- ments to the budget estimates presented by the executive.
In a swift reaction, Ab- dulmumin accused the nine members who addressed the press of having been induced
with $20,000 each.
He alleged that the money
was given to them at the Speaker’s residence by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Hon CID Maduabum. A charge that was quickly denied by Maduabum, saying “It is really shocking that this kind of despicable character could slip through the political process and become an Honourable member of the House of Representatives.”
Ndume: Padding spats, an embarrassment to National Assembly
In a related development, Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, has described the ongoing spats on budget in the House of Repre- sentatives as an embarrassment to the National Assembly.
The Senate Leader said: “The issue of budget padding is more of media hype than reality. We are not doing budget now. We only have Appropriation Act
which is a law and you know the process of implementing a law.
“I do not know where the issue of this budget padding we are talking about is coming from. If we are not to tinker with the budget as submitted by the president, then there would not have been the need to submit it to the National Assembly.
“We have the constitutional duty to add, subtract and adjust. That was what was done. This is the first time we did a budget that was collectively produced in the sense that it was done in such a way that the Senate, House of Representatives and the Executive played different parts.”
see Abdulmumin’s full response to the press conference by the nine Appropriation Committee members on www.thisdaylive. com