Bud­get pad­ding: House of Reps cri­sis deep­ens

Daily Trust - - NEWS -

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.

Photo: Macjohn Akande

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

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