•Jibrin to Dogara: Present proof I’m corrupt •Okafor denies allegation
By Beifoh Osewele and Kemi Yesufu
The Presidency said former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, was “blocked” from seeing President Muhammadu Buhari over his budget padding allegations against some principal officers of the House because he failed to follow protocol.
Jibrin, who had accused some principal officers of the House of padding had alleged that two governors and three former members of the House were “blocking” him from meeting the President to state his own side of the story.
But former Deputy Minority leader of the House of Representatives and Senior Special Assistant to the President, Abdulrahman Kawu-Sumaila, said as a lawmaker, Jibrin should know the “protocol” on how to see the President, even as he said Jibrin had never approached him to facilitate a meeting with Buhari.
“The way he has been going about this issue is unfortunate. He is dragging the names of innocent people into it. He has not approached me that he wants to see the President. If he makes a request, I will facilitate it for him. He knows the protocol.”
Jibrin yesterday challenged, Speaker Yakubu Dogara to present evidence to prove that he inserted projects in the 2016 budget.
Jibrin who insisted that he was removed because he refused to, “play ball”, also demanded that the Speaker give answers to various posers he raised over the 2016 budget, which he insisted was padded by some members of the House leadership.
He said: “I said it repeatedly and wish to restate that I did nothing wrong and I committed no offence. I did not abuse my office nor corruptly enrich myself in the five years I have been in the House
“The only reason they wanted me out is my independent-mindedness, resistance to corruption and my refusal to “play ball” on the gross abuse of office they institutionalized in the House. They simply want to have someone that can do their corrupt bidding.
“I have repeatedly urged Speaker Dogara and his gang of twelve corrupt members to feel free and forward any allegations they have against me to the anti-corruption agencies. That is if they finally find something beyond the lame allegations of “immaturity” and “betrayal”, which I have dealt with in my memoir series that will commence in a few days. I am not in anyway immune to investigation and prosecution if found wanting. I have pledged to stand as witness against them on this matter; they can as well stand witness against me.
Meanwhile, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Chike John Okafor has denied that he tinkered with allocations for healthcare in the 2016 budget.
Reacting to Jibrin’s allegation, Okafor in a statement entitled, “Nakedness won’t allow you clothes” said he fell out with the former chairman following his refusal to insert a N1 billion cottage hospital for his Bebeji-Kiru Federal in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Health.
The lawmaker challenged Jibrin to explain where the money for a N500 million hospital project in his constituency came from without the input of the three health related committees.
Okafor who stated that there was not a single project under the Federal Ministry of Health in his Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency also explained that the health minister defended the ministry’s budget jointly to his committee, the Committee on Health Institutions as well as the Committee on AIDS, TB and Malaria.
“He accused me of unilaterally working the budget on health; my ‘personal estate’ he called it. And I really wondered- has this man really been with us in the House of Representatives in body or in hologram?
“Even if his senses fail him, his eyes and ears should have told him that we have three committees of health that oversight the Ministry of Health namely: Committee on Health Institutions; Committee on Aids Tuberculosis and Malaria and Committee on Healthcare Services which I am the Chairman.
“For clarity, I wish to state that the three committees often meet jointly with the minister and on the budget preparation; we jointly met with the minister and unanimously came to agreement that the ministry was barely meeting its obligations with the resources allocated to it,” he said.
“Having duly considered the nature and sensitivity of the Health Ministry, we easily understood the need to sustain the budget proposal as submitted.
“In any case, the proposed 2016 health budget which accounts for 4.23 percent of the 2016 annual budget, is not only inadequate but also a far cry from the 15 percent stipulated at the “Abuja declaration” in April 2001, when heads of state of African Union countries met in Abuja and pledged to prioritize the development of the health sector by allocating at least 15% of their annual budgets to improve the sector.
“So without any ambiguity whatsoever, we clearly understood the uniqueness of the health ministry with more than six agencies and 55 parastatals under it; with multiple health and health-related programmes involving donor agencies and global partners, any of which could jeopardize healthcare delivery in the country if tinkered”.