The former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has unsealed a humongous can of worms while speaking on the real reasons for his removal on Wednesday.
Jibrin, who averred that it was his decision to step down as against the announced dismissal by the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, accused the speaker of attempting to pad N30 billion into the controversial 2016 budget.
A statement issued on Thursday evening read:
“I am obliged to make further statement after listening to the full statement of Speaker Yakubu Dogara on why I had to leave as Chairman Appropriation. It is a fact I went up to the Speaker and told him clearly I wanted to leave. He confirmed this in his statement but it appeared he wished he had fired me instead of my personal decision to step down.
Thereafter I proceeded to my office. I was therefore not surprised when an aide of mine walked into my office to inform me that the Speaker had announced my departure. I was relieved and went straight to address the press and released a statement. It was only later in the evening while monitoring the news that I watched the full statement he made on the floor. Speaker Dogara’s statement was a complete misrepresentation of the facts, false, mischievous, unfair and a calculated attempt to bring my name to disrepute, blackmail, silence and use me as a scape goat.
The plan is to execute it just before the recess so that by the time we return I would have been buried and the issue forgotten. Mr Speaker, this issue will never be swept under the carpet. We are closing for recess with it and we shall commence the next session with this issue. This was the last option they had after every attempt to find something to nail me failed. It is a known fact that I am a very blunt person by nature. I don’t know how to pretend. I don’t do eye service neither will I ever be a sycophant. I don’t give returns. I just do my job faithfully and dedicatedly. My offence was asserting my independence and insisting that we do the right thing at all times and expose corrupt people in the House.
Lately I openly disagreed with some principal officers on the issue of immunity for Lawmakers and budget issues. I still maintained I will never support immunity. I strongly believe with every conviction that in cleaning up the budgeting system and considering what transpired during 2016 budget which I have all the facts documented, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and minority Leader Leo Ogor should resign. These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves 40billion naira out of the 100billion allocated to the entire National Assembly.
The four of them met and took that decision. In addition to billions of wasteful projects running over 20 billion they allocated to their constituencies. They must come out clean. My inability to admit into the budget almost 30 billion personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the 3 other principal officers also became an issue. I have every documented evidence to this effect. After the submission of the first version of the budget which was returned by Mr. President, I briefed members in executive session and told them as agreed at our pre budget meeting with chairmen and deputy chairmen of standing committees, we simply adopted their reports with little amendments. No body faulted my submission.
Members insisted they must know how the N100 billion was allocated. I told them the truth. Since after that meeting, Mr Speaker with the suport of the three other principal officers effectively blocked me from briefing members, ensured I was not at the last executive session and refused to investigate issues I raised that I believe must be addressed if we intend to build a better budget system for the House. I gave Mr. Speaker statistics of 2000 new projects introduced into the budget by less than 10 committee chairmen without the knowledge of their committee members he did nothing about it because he was part of the mess yet he is talking about improving the budget system. I did nothing wrong. I worked within the rules of the House and instructions of Mr. Speaker. During the budget period, Mr. President graciously granted myself and Sen. Goje audience.
It was a very good meeting. Speaker Dogara took it extremely personal that we saw the president without his knowledge and went on to scuttle all our efforts to help the president during the budget process because he wanted to be seen by the president as the only good man. He forgot that he sees heads of MDA’s daily which he enjoys doing more than his job as Speaker for reasons best known to him anyway, without Mr. President’s knowledge. That is how petty and narrow minded Dogara can be. A coward, hypocrite and pretender of the highest order. Mr President must be very careful with him. He wines with Mr. President and dines with Mr. Presidents enemies. I am glad that I am finally free from his emotional blackmail of constantly trying to make me see my appointment as appropriation chairman as a favour.
He has failed to realise that I came a long way and even attained chairman finance when he was chairman House services before this appointment. Seeing as the Speaker claimed that they have taken the decision or were going to take decision to replace me, he now has a responsibility to tell the world why they took or were going to take such decision. I challenge them to tell the world why? I will be releasing a more detailed statement in due course.
Meanwhile, I intend to explore all internal avenues of the House to brief my colleagues in detail and testify against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority leader Leo Ogor on why they should resign. If I am not allowed to exercise my privilege, I shall consider legal options. I can no longer bear the brunt of abuses and baseless allegations keeping quiet all in the name of “confidentiality” expected of an appropriation chairman. I will not allow anybody no matter how highly placed to destroy my life as intended by the full statement of Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Now Nigerians will see clearly the ulterior motive behind the desperate moves for immunity for principal officers of the National Assembly.”
Dogara reacted swiftly to the allegations with a rebuttal.
A statement by the spokesperson for the house, Abdulrazak Namdas, dismissed Mr. Jibrin’s claims.
Our attention has been down to media statements made by the former Chairman of House Appropriation Committee, Hon Abdulmumuni Jibrin wherein he made wild allegations against the House of Representatives and its leaders.
We wish to say that it is the prerogative of the Selection Committee of the House to appoint and remove Committee Chairmen. That power has been so exercised in the case of Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin as chairman of Appropriation Committee.
Most of the allegations on the 2016 budget process and his opposition to immunity of Presiding officers are non-issues and mere afterthought manufactured simply because the House relieved him of his position.
If he had all these ‘facts’ before, why didn’t he make them public? Why is he doing that now?
Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, like any other member of the House knows that there are conventions and precedents as it relates to budgets and projects for principal officers of the National Assembly. Why is he making it an issue now? In any case, he is entitled to his opinion as a Nigerian and as a legislator while acting within the laws of Nigeria and rules of the House.
We must make it abundantly clear that he was not removed because of his support or otherwise on immunity bill. After all he is not the only one who opposed the bill.
The bill is still pending before committee on review of constitution and it has to be voted upon by each and every member of the House, get Senate concurrence, endorsed by two-third of the 36 State Houses of Assembly and be assented to by the President. It is a cheap blackmail on the part of Hon. Jibrin to even insinuate that he was removed because he opposed immunity bill.
He should not distract the House from giving legislative support on important issues facing the government concerning the revival of the economy, insecurity in the country, pursuit of anti-corruption measures, poverty alleviation, infrastructural development etc. The Nigerian people are simply not ready to waste their time on personal issues and personal egos of our leaders. We should face the urgent tasks before us for which we were elected.