I agree that the legislature in Nigeria qualify to be described with the word nascent, an adjective that has tended to have beaten a retreat in the description of the democracy we now practice. There would be something anomalous about propping the nascency of a process that has survived all of 17 years and still counting. Even when men in uniform take power, they function in the executive capacity, retain the judiciary and summarily dismiss the legislature . In the real sense the legislature is the nascent arm of government given that it gets the booth every time democracy is truncated . it still stands to reason that they start on a clean slate every time democracy is restored. Again 17 years is a long time for the reasoning to stand that the legislature is still finding its feet. Over time the legislative chambers in Ajuja has evolved from the roulette wheel of leadership, which was once described as banana peels in the senate, slipping many senate presidents. When David Mark came to the saddle at the senate, the peels did not get him down. He made the place stable.
The new peel now trending in the house is padding. Former house chairman of appropriation committee Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin opened a can of worms when he said the leadership of the house has been ‘padding’ the budget. He alleged that the leadership, represented by Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara and principal officers had added things to the project without the consent of the house in plenary, implying that what was submitted for presidential assent, was not the consensus of the house. Jibrin said he was a repentant lawmaker, which is why he has revealed a closely guarded secret. The trending news is that the so-called padding is not new, it has survived the previous house but got stuck in the current dispensation.
They had hidden the padding before now. Questions have long been asked why the Jibrin should not be accused of sour grapes since he chose to squeal only after Dogara removed him as chairman of the appropriation committee. He wants to get back at Dogara for sacking him. He has revealed what many in the precincts of power know but have kept away from the people . The members are also said to build in projects into the budget and turn round to contractors to collect returns since the project cost would have been well padded to ‘take care’ of the member. Those constituency projects are said to be cash cows for the members. Jibrin says Dogara, Deputy Speaker, the majority whip and the minority leader illegally inserted 2000 projects into the budget to the tune of 284 billion naira.
The people mentioned have all said Jibrin is economical with the truth, that he has no facts to buttress his point. The House Committee chairman on Budget and research, Hon. Timothy Golu says there is nothing like padding. Hear him ‘There is nothing called padding. It is just a word used to politicize the work done on the budget. The constitution gives the National Assembly the power to tinker with the estimates sent to it by the executive’
If the house has the powers to tinker with projects in the budget, why do we call for their heads when what they do is what they have the powers to do. Perhaps the judiciary needs to intervene by way of doing their duty of interpreting the law. Does the legislature have the power to tinker with the budget? If it does, then we have no duty taking them to the slaughter slab.
How come such misdemeanor had been concealed in the past, an indication that high level conspiracy had been at play. Lessen; nothing is hidden under the sun.
Note: Last week I wrote that insurgents did operate in the North west . it was a slip. Insurgents have largely operated in the North east.