ON Wednesday, the House of Representatives had a rowdy session over the attempt to suspend the whistle blower and erstwhile Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Dr. Abdumumini Jibrin. Not long ago, Jibrin had accused the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and three other principal officers of the House of corruption and padding the 2016 budget in excess of N20 billion.
The attempt to suspend Jubrin by Dogara supporters and leave out Dogara and three others is punitive. The Ethics and Privileges Committee has been given one week to investigate the matter. Jibrin equally risks six-month suspension if he is found guilty. There is serious doubt that Jibrin will get fair hearing in the hands of the Ethics and Privileges Committee in a matter the House leadership is interested.
What Jibrin has done did not translate to bringing disrepute and dishonour to the House as some members alleged. It does not amount to pulling the House down. He is not waging a vicious war against the House. What Jibrin did is the most honourable and patriotic thing to do in such circumstance. Hounding Jibrin as the House is presently doing will not help its legislative duties and oversight functions that democracy demands. If the members of the Green Chamber want Nigerians to believe them, they should prevail on the Speaker, Dogara and others allegedly involved in the padding scandal to step aside. It should not be the other way round. Padding is a heinous crime against the people of Nigeria. The budget is a plan of how a government intends to spend available money in a fiscal year to provide security, infrastructure, welfare, education, health and other services to Nigerian people.
Budget padding is an economic crime that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) ought to be interested in investigating instead of hounding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the guise of prosecuting the anti-corruption war.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dogara and his fellow conspirators in budget padding, should as men of honour and integrity resign now until the embarrassing matter is properly investigated not necessarily by the Ethics and Privileges Committee but by the Nigerian Police. From our recent experience over the alleged sex scandal of some rep members in the US and how it was handled, the Ethics and Privileges Committee will not do a good job in this particular case. That is why the police should investigate the matter and prosecute it. The House will be threading on a dangerous path if it singled out Jibrin for punishment. No doubt, most Nigerians are likely to queue behind him for opening up the messy budget padding.
Without Jibrin’s whistle blowing activism, Nigerians would not have known the extent of budget padding in the House and the major actors. For playing the role of a whistle blower, Jibrin deserves praise and accolades. Jibrin should not be made the scapegoat of this perfidy.
Nigerians must rise and resist the current persecution of Jibril. The House members should remember that they were selected by Nigerians to represent them. Whatever they do should be in the best interest of those they represent. They should not enrich themselves at the expense of those they represent.
Our legislators have persistently shortchanged the voters over constituency allowance and projects. That is why Nigerians are calling for the cancellation of such bogus projects that line the lawmakers’ pockets. In this matter, Jibrin appears to be representing the best interest of Nigerians for fearlessly revealing to the public the budget padding saga.
Budget padding could be the reason some Nigerian roads are still in dilapidated condition. Budget padding may be the reason some civil servants’ salaries are not paid. It may be the cause of poor health funding in the country. The list can go on and on. Although some officials of the House have denied involvement and went ahead to shamelessly pronounce that budget padding is not a crime and that they did not break any known Nigerian law. Their defence is weak and porous. It is nothing but a survival strategy. It does not distract from the truth of the matter that padding is a heinous economic crime against the country because those behind the padding do not mean well for Nigerians.
Nigerians are no fools. They know where the padded money will go at the end of the day. Budget padding is not new in Nigeria. It has been with us since 1999 when we began this democratic experiment. But the criminality keeps getting bigger and bigger as we progress in our democracy. That is why all those involved in the padding allegation should be properly investigated and prosecuted by the police.
Doing so is the only way the House of Representatives can clean its apparently tainted image. No amount of support, grandstanding and cover up will save the day for its leadership. The House should listen to Nigerians and stop the current hounding of Jibrin.
54 Happy Cheers to Gov. Okorocha
The Governor of Imo State, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha, turned 54 yesterday. In a land where life expectancy is abysmally low, this is not a mean achievement. Therefore, I join millions of his admirers, friends, colleagues and family members in wishing Owelle more fruitful years in the service of the state and the country.
At 54, Owelle has more to offer to Nigerian politics, nation building and development of our democracy. Owelle bestrode the Imo political landscape like a colossus in 2011 and won the governorship poll by resoundingly defeating his opponent.
His first term was highly eventful and that was why he was returned for a second term in 2015 in a landslide.
Some part of his second term has attracted undue criticisms mainly by the opposition, especially the recent demolition in Owerri. No doubt, Owelle will right all perceived wrongs and make amends where necessary for development, especially urban renewal, usually comes with some pains.
He still has more three years to take the state to his desired destination. He is the man on the throne right now. He should be allowed to either prove himself right or wrong.
I believe he will get it right in due course, no matter the seeming temporary mistakes. This is wishing His Excellency a happy birthday celebration and many good returns.