Budget-padding: Will the Whistle-Blower Go Down?

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Everything seems to be stalked against the recalcitrant former Chairman, Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdulmumin Aminu, in his bid to get Speaker Yakubu Dogara and three other principal officers of the House to answer to allegations of budget padding. Aminu has been fighting spiritedly to bring the Speaker to book. He had forwarded his petition to the various anti-corruption agencies in the country and followed it up by personally appearing before EFCC and ICPC to defend the allegations. After all the exchanges and sidekicks outside the Green Chamber, the matter eventually moved to the House last week. And when it came up in the House on Wednesday after a lot of filibustering, the lawmakers expectedly shielded Dogara from being made to answer to the allegation, as if confirming Dogara’s position that budget-padding is not an offence. Instead of putting their Speaker to task, the lawmakers made Aminu the fall guy.

They alleged that Aminu, by his action, had brought the House to disrepute. His case was referred to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges. Aminu had said he would not appear before the committee unless it was ready to conduct open hearing, apparently giving the panel ammunition to roast him. The committee too had replied Aminu, saying the lawmaker could not dictate to it how to conduct its business. It’s now only a matter of time before the whistle-blower is suspended, perhaps till the end of the tenure of the 8th House. Is this a fair process? If Speaker Dogara is clean, as he claims he is, why would n’t he allow a neutral body to probe the budget padding allegation? This allegation that four leaders of the House cornered constituency projects worth over N100billion must not be swept under the carpet, not in this period of recession when many homes are struggling to have three square meals a day.

•NB: This column will be rested for a while because the demands of a new trajectory the writer is engaged in may make it difficult to maintain it.