From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Former chairman of the House Appropriaation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, yesterday accused two governors and three former members of the House of working to ensure that his allegations of budget padding against Speaker Yakubu Dogara are swept under the rug.
He also said the unidentified governors and former lawmakers have blocked his access to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Jibrin has alleged that Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Majority Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor and ten chairmen of Standing Committees of illegally inserted 2,000 projects totaling N284 billion in the 2016 budget.
In a statement yesterday, Jibrin said he had to break the gag order imposed on him by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) last week because of unfavorable media reports he alleged were sponsored to smear his reputation.
He said: “After three days of careful observation and receiving information from very patriotic Nigerians, I discovered a grand plan by the group of two governors and three former members designed to provide soft-landing for Dogara and 12 others, give them time to clean up the mess on their desk, destroy whatever evidence in their possession and reach, spread money across members to buy signature of vote of confidence, try to scare and drag as many people as they can into this matter, invade the party and top government officials and influential people that have the ears of the president and try to change the media and public narrative by embarking on very expensive media campaign to discredit and attack my person with all manner of lies they can concoct.
“I have made it a duty to respond to all the allegations against me. The latest they brought up this weekend has already been taken care of in my soon-to-be-released memoir. But I have decided not to wait until my birthday in September to release it. I will start releasing the memoir in piecemeal any moment from now so that answers to their cheap blackmail, including the junk and lies they peddle in the media, will be provided. While I was determined to observe the ceasefire, Dogara and his group of few rogues didn’t”.
The former chairman who chided the Speaker for telling State House Correspondents he wasn’t going to resigns as there was no crime like budget padding in the country’s laws, wondered why the House leadership explained that his removal was based on the non-existent crime.
He said: “I was shocked and dumbfounded when I saw the Speaker on television saying padding is not an offence not because of the disgraceful contradiction after clearly stating that I was “sacked” for padding but I could not believe he could have the temerity to make such reckless, insensitive, arrogant and fraudulent statement right within the sanctity of the president’s Presidential Villa, a place that symbolizes zero tolerance for corruption.
“He didn’t know that by that statement he has clearly confirmed my allegation that he and three others connived with some committee chairmen to insert into the budget over 2,000 items worth N284 billion. No wonder he refused to take action despite my complaint. Now that I have provided evidence that he and three others masterminded the insertion of N40 billion into the budget, another wasteful N20 billion and attempt to force me to insert another N30 billion into the budget, padding is no longer an offence!
“So the Speaker is saying the nine roads he inserted into the budget which he fraudulently sandwiched into four roads and inserted billions into that without any design or costing is not an offence? Or the water project he hijacked from the budget and took to his farm is not an offence? Or moving ten solar boreholes to a place that probably requires just two is not an offense? This has really proved that Speaker Dogara is the son, father, grand father and great grand father of padding! Nigerians are watching!!!
… It won’t be family affair –DG VON
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and All progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has said the padding crises in the House would not be treated or dismissed as a family affair.
“You don’t settle such matters as a family affair. That is the difference between the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the other past ones and that is why Nigerians voted for him. You cannot call him into a tango tree of bribery because you’re a member of APC.
“What you call settlement is impunity, diversion of public fund and that is why there’s hunger today, that’s why today there’s unemployment, that’s why there’s no electricity,” he said.
According to him, President Buhari and Nigerians would be the greatest beneficiaries of the budget scandal.
Fielding questions from journalists, Okechukwu maintained that the rift vindicated President Buhari for raising the alarm over the alterations of the budget document he presented to the National Assembly, adding that it was a confirmation of the budget padding that have been going on for years.
While reacting to the allegation of budget padding and the position of the party, the APC chieftain said, “They say in social sciences, when there is an antithesis, there has to be synthesis. “I think that inasmuch as the publicity and the image crisis this may have on the institution or the image of the Nigeria state, at the end of the day, the synthesis, the beneficiaries will be Mr President, the Federal Government and the Nigerian people.
“The emerging budget padding allegation and counter allegations have vindicated Mr President. There was a time he rejected the budget, ordering that it must be taken back because it is not what he presented. Some people shouted and accused the president of delaying the budget and started asking what he was talking about.
“The president has not only been vindicated, he has drawn redline on the issue of anybody manipulating the budget process in Nigeria again. You can now stand up during the budget negotiations between the legislature and the executive to say this is what is needed and canvass it on the superiority of argument.
“The legislators should negotiate and criticize directly; it is not the question of working away when the executive goes back, and somebody going to one hotel room to doctor what was presented not only to him but the whole House. That era is gone, what is happening now is not negative, in the fullness of time, it is very advantageous,” he noted.
The VON DG dismissed any likelihood of the APC handling the issue as a family affair.