Thursday 21 July 2016

House of Reps Speaker, Yakubu Dogara sacks Appropriation Committee Chairman over budget padding crisis

Abdulmumin Jibrin
The Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on Wednesday relieved the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, of his position, because of the crisis, which trailed the 2016 budget.

It was learnt that it was a decision long-awaited by members of the House, some of whom reacted to the announcement by jubilating on the floor in Abuja.

Jibrin, an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kano State, was immediately replaced by another member from Kano State, Mr. Mustapha Bala-Dawaki.

Bala-Dawaki was until Wednesday, the Chairman, House Committee on Housing.

However, Jibrin quickly denied that he was sacked. Rather, he stated that he met Dogara and told him that he could no longer continue as a chairman.

The Speaker, before making the announcement, informed members about how Jibrin earlier approached him to say that due to “pressure,” he was stepping down as the committee chairman.
“He met me and said he does not think he would continue as the committee chairman due to pressure of the work,” the Speaker stated.
But he concluded by saying that there was actually a decision already taken to drop him.

By the time the sacking was announced, Jibrin had left the chambers.

He was seen earlier discussing with Dogara at the Speaker’s chair before he (Jibrin) exited the chambers.

Findings showed that Dogara had been under pressure to sack Jibrin since May when the details of the 2016 budget caused disaffection between Jibrin and other members.

A major sore point was the allegation that he allocated projects worth over N4bn to his Bebeji Federal Constituency in Kano State, while some lawmakers had no projects in their constituencies.

Among his committee members, many were also said to be unhappy with Jibrin for “hoarding” information on the details of the N6.06tn budget from them.

It was gathered that lawmakers had so much trust in Jibrin that they passed the 2016 budget without accurate information on the details.

They were said to have been embarrassed when they later got to know about the details of the budget and how they reportedly felt “short-changed” in the distribution of projects.

President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent to the budget for several weeks after the budget was passed, owing to the “padding” crisis between the Executive and the National Assembly.

The controversial N100bn built into the budget for the constituency projects of National Assembly also generated tension.

Principal officers of the Senate and the House were said to have been allocated projects valued at over N40bn.

However, speaking after his removal, Jibrin denied that he was sacked. Rather, he said he chose to step down as a “personal decision.”

But, he admitted that there were issues associated with the 2016 budget, which had generated anger in the House.
Jibrin added, “A lot of issues took place during the 2016 budget. I have said that if there is anything that amounts to abuse of my office or that amounts to illegality, it should be brought to my knowledge.
“Up till this day, nobody has brought anything forward. I am not at fault, but it is only proper that I take responsibility by stepping aside so that the work of the committee can continue.”
Jibrin said there were details and documents relating to the budget that he had yet to release, promising to make them available at the appropriate time.

When reporters asked him about the N4bn, Jibrin replied that a budget was not prepared by only one person.
On the question whether he was forced to resign, Jibrin responded, “Anybody who says I was forced to resign should provide reasons why he forced me to resign.
“I like my job, but I have to go,” he added.

Credit: Punch

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