Budget padding: House of Reps crisis deepens
He also said he would lead a new reform in the House. “When a new Speaker emerges and the other principal officers are replaced, I will write to the presiding officers of both chambers to commence a radical internal reform in the entire NASS, beyond budget to cover performance assessment, running cost and allowances, investigations, etc.
“If the reforms so done on NASS is not made public, latest by December, I shall take it up and lay before the general public even if I am alone.
“The idea is to do a cleanup, flush out corruption and corrupt members so that in 2019 only corrupt free people who want to serve will come in “God Almighty knows I am not perfect but as I approach 40 years in September, I have always wondered what is it that I can live and die for.”
On Wednesday a group of lawmakers under a new name ‘Transparency Group’ addressed a press conference, demanding an external probe into Jibirin’s allegations.
Meanwhile, a group of House members are said to be working to effect leadership changes in the House, Daily Trust learnt from different sources yesterday.
A lawmaker told Daily Trust yesterday that allegations made by Jibrin were weighty adding that the hands of the speaker and his deputy “are soiled in the whole matter.”
The source said their ultimate goal in the matter was to get a new leadership in place “because the current leaders have failed us so far.”
“The issue is that they have erred. We just have to tell ourselves the truth. Even though Jibrin is just a noise maker, we know even before now that certain things took place,” said the lawmaker.
Another member told Daily Trust that Dogara and Lasun could be on their way out as signatures are being collected to determine the next line of action to take.
“Our final destination is change of leadership; that is certain. We’ve been watching what has been happening, and the time to act is now,” said the lawmaker.
Asked if they have commenced shopping for the person to replace Dogara, the source said they were yet to reach that stage, but that they are still strategising.
“We’ll get to that stage soon. But we haven’t really started looking for the person to replace them.
“Let me tell you, some of us thought that the man (Dogara) started well going by the many initiatives he brought, but it seems we were wrong after all.”
A third lawmaker said “if no one will move for his impeachment, I will do that. I can’t believe what they did. Are we not all equal? We were all elected by our people to come here and represent them. Nobody should play smart. For me, they’re all failures, including Jibrin.”
House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa) could not be reached for comment on the removal plot. His two phone numbers were switched off and a text message sent to him did not deliver.
The Transparency Group, which boasts of over 100 members across the six geopolitical zones, on Wednesday, said those involved in the allegations should come out clean and face probe by antigraft agencies.
The group said some members had at different times raised an alarm over move by our presiding officers and some principal officers of the House to insert unnecessary and illegal projects into the appropriation bill with a view to taking advantage of their respective positions against the collective national interest.
Those present at the Wednesday briefing, who are members of the media team of the group, were Reps Mohammed Soba (APC, Kaduna), Bashir Baballe (APC, Kano), Lawal Yahaya (APC, Bauchi), Abubakar Chika (APC, Niger) and Yusuf Ikara (APC, Kaduna).
External forces at work – Gombe Reps
Gombe State Caucus in the House yesterday accused some forces outside the green chamber of creating chaotic atmosphere in the House.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, the lawmakers said they would not be part of any group that would cause instability in the House. The lawmakers that signed the statement were Reps Ali Isa, Aishatu Jibrin Dukku, Ustaz Yunusa Ahmad Abubakar, Binta Bello, Ismaila Muazu Hassan and Yaya Bauchi Tongo. Bello was absent at the briefing.
“Most definitely, the House has enjoyed considerable peace and stability under the able leadership of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, but it seems some persons, both within and outside the House, are bent on scuttling this atmosphere of peace engendered by our amiable Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
“We of the Gombe State caucus of the House of Representatives wish to categorically and publicly declare that we are not part of any evil group trying to cause disaffection and instability in the House of Representatives, and we in like manner, dissociate ourselves from any conspiracy and attack against Speaker Yakubu Dogara and the entire leadership of the House.
While describing Jibrin’s allegations as “wild goose chase,” the lawmakers said they were “appalled and shocked that Hon Jibrin only came out with this accusation just after the House has duly sacked him as appropriation Committee Chairman over the offence of unlawfully inflating the budget in his own favour!”
They said soon after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the budget to the National Assembly last December, Jibrin wrote all members requesting them to send details of projects they wanted captured in their constituencies, which they said all lawmakers complied with.
“But we are now shocked and surprised that Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin is now using these same letters to blackmail the House as guilty of padding the Federal Budget! What a shame,” they added.
“The world, particularly Nigerians, must be told that the figures being reeled out by Hon. Jibrin as his basis of blackmail against the leadership of the House were actually suggested by him. As a matter of fact, the Appropriation Committee under the leadership of Hon. Jibrin initiated the allocation formula with which the constituency projects of Honourable Members were inserted into the 2016 budget.
“By reason of their leadership position, the Appropriation Committee conceded significant provisions to the principal officers of the House, but we are even shocked that Hon. Jibrin who is not a principal officer allocated provisions to his Constituency far beyond what the principal officers he is accusing got. So what is Hon. Jibrin’s point in this shameless dance of absurdity?”
But Jibrin, in his reaction, described the Gombe lawmakers’ action as a show of shame,” and that they only “succeeded in only rehashing the accusation of lies leveled against me by Speaker Dogara.
On Tuesday, the House said through Namdas that it would conduct an internal probe into the 8-month tenure of Jibrin, to establish all the allegations leveled against him by members and some government agencies. Suspected Boko Haram insurgents yesterday attacked a humanitarian aid convoy traveling from Bama to Maiduguri in Borno State, leaving at least three people injured.
The convoy included staff from UNICEF, UNFPA and IOM, a statement by UNICEF said yesterday.
“UNICEF can confirm that a UNICEF employee and an IOM contractor were injured in the attack and are being treated at a local hospital. All other UNICEF, IOM and UNFPA staff are safe,” it said, adding that the United Nations has temporarily suspended humanitarian assistance missions pending review of the security situation.
Army spokesman, Col Sani Usman, who confirmed the incident, said in a statement that “Troops returning from Bama on humanitarian escort duty, were ambushed enroute Maiduguri by suspected remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hiding in Meleri village, a few kilometres from Kawuri.
“The gallant troops, however, successfully cleared the ambush and exploited up to Afunori. Unfortunately, 2 soldiers and 3 civilians were wounded in the ambush, among whom were staff of United Nations agencies and other international humanitarian organizations.
“The wounded have been evacuated to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri and they are in stable condition.”
A source at the 7 Div of the Nigerian Army told Daily Trust that over 50 Boko Haram terrorists laid siege on the highway and opened fire on the convoy.
From left: Members of the House Representatives, Gombe State Caucus, Mr. Yaya Tongo, Mrs. Aishatu Dukku, Mr. Alli Jessy and Ahmed Yunusa, during their press conference disassociating themselves from the allegations levelled against the Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other House leaders by Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin in Abuja yesterday