Budget padding: House of Reps crisis Deepens

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Speaker Yakubu Dogara

Speaker Yakubu Dogara

Crises in the House of Representatives deepened yesterday over allegations that the Speaker and others illegally inserted billions of naira constituency projects in the 2016 budget.  The former chairman of the appropriation committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, last week alleged that the House leaders forced him to insert constituency projects worth about N40 billion illegally in the budget.

 

He specifically named Speaker Yakubu Dogora, his deputy, Yussuf Suleimon Lasun, chief whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and minority leader, Leo Ogor as those who influenced the illegal act, an allegation the quartet have since denied.
Jibrin was removed from his post last week Wednesday after the House leadership accused him of illegally inserting projects worth N4 billion in the budget for his constituency.
Jibrin in his latest allegation yesterday, which he termed No 21, said Dogara diverted a water project in the budget to his farm in Nasarawa State.

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 anti-graft 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).
Daily Trust

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