Budget Scandal: Lawmakers Spar on Twitter

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  • Abdulmumin disagrees with Melaye over state of economy

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement, Hon. Oluwole Oke, and the sacked Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin, monday sparred on social media platform, twitter, over an interview granted by Oke on the budget padding scandal.

Abdulmumin fired the first salvo at about 9.43 a.m., tweeting his rejoinder to the interview granted to THISDAY by Oke.

In a series of tweets, he said Oke belongs to the inner circle of House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara’s corrupt cabal.

He alleged that Oke has been inviting heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to extort money from them, in the name of investigations where he has no mandate.

“This same member was part of the gang that introduced the jumbo allowance and cannot believe that such allowances have finally met a brick wall with my revelation! Oke was for years on the run and almost became a fugitive in the United States before he was mysteriously brought back to the House for ‘rehabilitation’.

“It is Oke who should be thoroughly investigated for the role he played in the arms deal scandal. He was for many years the past Chairman House Committee on defence and was involved in several arm deals. This is the time for security agencies to act decisively on this saboteur in our system,” he said in his tweets.

Oke responded to the allegations on his twitter handle, accusing Abdulmumin of trying to pull down the National Assemblybecause he lost out in a power game.

“…You are yet to present any allegation before the National Assembly to warrant a reply to your allegations or have you?…if you think some of us will keep quiet and allow you to destroy the National Assembly via falsehood, you will be disappointed…go and check your records and facts, I am not a fugitive in any part of the world. I move freely across the globe,” he said in a series of tweets.

Oke, who was Chairman of House Committee on Defence from 2003 to 2011, said his hands are not soiled, rather, he added value.

“I was not in the House between 2011 and 2015, that is under arms deal gate, so he doesn’t have his facts, and even between 2003 and 20011 when I held sway as Defence Committee Chairman I can walk tall on the streets.

“I have jurisdiction to summon MDAs on their procurements…His allegations cannot and will not deter me from carrying out my job. Any agency that has been asked to bring money can report to the security Agencies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abdulmumin, has disagreed with Senator Dino Mela, ye on his call for the sack of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, over the state of the economy.

He urged Melaye to look inwards and address the problem as a lawmaker, and also address the budget scandal in the House of Representatives.

Abdulmumin, in a statement yesterday, also said it was wrong to blame President Buhari Muhammadu for the poor state of the economy, as this administration came in barely a year ago.
“Not even a magician can turn around the economy within a period of one year. The biggest spending in our economy, that is the budget, hasn’t even run a full course of one year, yet, some people want to crucify President Buhari,” he said.

The lawmaker said his background as former Chairman of House Committee on Finance and Appropriation qualifies him to contribute and proffer solutions to the challenging state of the economy.

“The recurrent expenditure, which has escalated and constituted a huge burden on our yearly budget rose from N950.32billion in 2006 to N1.372.20 trillion in 2008 and N2.593.62 trillion in 2015. This was not created by President Buhari,” he added.

He expressed confidence in the ability of Adeosun to turn the economy around, adding that Emefiele is managing the most challenging period the apex bank has ever witnessed. Abdulmumin’s statement read further: “We all know how badly oil price has gone, a situation that adversely affected our foreign reserves and mounted pressure on the naira. No matter what approach we adopt to manage and deal with the situation, recovery will be slow. It is not President Buhari’s fault. Everyone seems to forget when the whole country was supporting more spending as against saving. But here we are today, soaked in the rainy day. President Buhari should not be used as anybody’s scapegoat!

“Similarly, the total cash call (oil production cost) which rose from about N200 billion in 2006 to about N1.2 trillion in 2015 was not a creation of President Buhari. The cash call has remained another tale of burden on our yearly budget. Statutory transfers including that of the National Assembly are not left behind. Statutory transfers rose from just about N100 billion in 2006 to N375.62 billion in 2015. President Buhari was not the president then.

“Debt servicing also rose from about N300 billion in 2006 to N953.62 billion in 2015. These expenditures have over the years constrained the budget and made it difficult to channel sufficient funds towards productive sectors that can sufficiently grow the economy. Domestic borrowing also skyrocketed during this period and created devastating consequences on the economy.

“Government at that time continued to mop up money from commercial banks at a rate considered one of the highest in the world, while the real sector is left with nothing. And even when they were able to access funds, it came with an unbearable interest rate. President Buhari met this situation on ground. He did not create it, but is doing his very best to take us out of the economic quagmire. We should all support him.”