One fine morning, the Nation woke up to some strange news. The immediate past Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin accused the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara of colluding with his deputy, Yusuf Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Doguwa, and Minority Whip Leo Ogor to allot up to ₦40 billion to themselves in the budget.
For guys who don’t know, this is termed “Budget Padding” and yes, its a scandal. It involves the importation of non-existing projects into successive budgets and allegedly making away with large sums of money budgeted for them.
Just if you are wondering why our National Lawmakers would get involved in this kind of act, given the huge sums of money, we spend on the National Assembly, the answer is simple. Greed!
When this news got out, our President, who happens to be an Anti-Corruption “Superhero” of sorts, (without a cape) had this to say,”The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund. Never have I heard the words budget padding”. That makes it two of us, because this is the first time I have ever heard of such a possibility.
However, I am not the least bit surprised. The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), believed that budget padding had been going on for years. Sagay said the only reason why the fraud was being exposed was because of the friction between Jibrin and key members of the House.
He added, “What I suspect is that this is not the first time. It has been going on for a long time, but it looks as if it is because things fell apart between them that everyone is exposing one another. Budget padding was going on as usual when they were getting along so, I don’t think it is anything new.
“It is just that it was too audacious this time when Jibrin allegedly took away N60bn meant for Calabar-Lagos Railway and simply split it among projects in his own constituency and the constituencies of his friends. They thought they would get away with it, but fate caught up with them. So, the law will take its course.”
Prepare to be stunned, just when you start to wonder if everyone on the Committee on Appropriation was in on it, the Deputy Chairman of the committee had something to say about the former Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin. He said Jibrin, solely worked on the 2016. His words,”He unilaterally took the entire budget to a hideout with his consultant without the consent of the committee. “That was the last time the committee saw the budget, only for Jubrin to resurface about three weeks later, with a report purported to have come from the committee. “Consequently, members approached Mr Speaker with a complaint and a demand to remove Jibrin as the Chairman of the Committee”
So, Jibrin took the budget into his bedroom to pad.
On his own, Rep Jibrin said Dogara diverted a federal water project to his farm in Nasarawa State. Giving reasons he had to wait till now to speak out, he said: “Those who keep saying why now should realize that for every situation like this to occur, there must be a trigger, however, it looks! “I woke up mid night yesterday (Wednesday) to pray and suddenly realized I have become an accidental activist. This is noble and there is no going back! “I am a product of the establishment but something in me has never been comfortable. I’m so glad that by September 9, my 40th birthday, everybody would have known where I stand for the rest of my life; rural agriculture and fight against corruption, especially in the NASS.”
In other words, he just woke up too. I bet we cannot wait to find out how this whole drama ends up. But it’s strange sha, so inside all this hunger and unpaid salaries of the moment, our Reps still dey get mind pad our budget!