Tuesday 26 July 2016

Obasanjo and lawmakers in war of words over Budget padding allegation

Olusegun Obasanjo
Sequel to the allegations of corrupt practices in the National Assembly, especially with regards to the padding of the 2016 budget in the House of Representatives, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said the National Assembly was filled with rogues and armed robbers.

Obasanjo’s comment elicited caustic responses from the legislators, who accused him of running a corrupt and killer regime that attempted tenure elongation, which they lawmakers scuttled.

The salvo came on a day the Senate described the fight between the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and embattled former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, as unnecessary and unfortunate, and urged the lower house not to wash its dirty linen in public.

Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Pally Iriase, also, yesterday, threatened that the leadership of the House might drag Jibrin before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, asserting that if there was any padding of the budget, it was allegedly perpetrated by Jibrin, who handled the affairs of the budget.

Abdumumuni Jubril (APC, Kano), who was hitherto Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, last Friday opened a can of worms on the padding of the 2016 budget by the lawmakers, implicating the Speaker, Yakubo Dogara, in the padding of the budget with over N40 billion.

Why Buhari must be vigilant – Obasanjo

Former President Obasanjo drew the first blood while fielding questions from State House Correspondents on the revelations in the House after meeting privately with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Obasanjo said the lawmakers had vindicated his earlier comments in 2012 that the National Assembly was populated by rogues and armed robbers.

He urged Nigerians to vote credible people into the parliament, advising President Buhari to be wary of the lawmakers.
He said: “Well, if you said that I have said it in the past and if they are people who didn’t believe what I said in the past, then you can now say that what has come out confirms what I said in the past, then you can say what I said in the past is what I will say now.
“It’s not a question of investigation, we should get men and women of integrity into the place and the President should be very vigilant. Whatever should not pass should not pass.”
Commenting on his mission, Obasanjo said he was in the Villa to deliver messages from Liberia, Gambia and Seychelles to President Buhari.
“I am visiting this time because I have some messages for the President. Not too long ago, I was in Liberia and Gambia and I have messages these two countries will want me to deliver to the President.
“Also, only yesterday, I came back from Seychelles Island where I attended this year’s Annual General Meeting of Africa Export Development Bank, and there are aspects of the proceedings that I think I should update the President,” he said.
Responding to Obasanjo’s comments, the Senate said. yesterday that it was not prepared to join issues with the former president.

But reacting to former President Obasanjo’s comments on the National Assembly over the budget, Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South said that the former President must apologize profusely to the Senate.
“I believe former President Obasanjo has premised his denigrating comment on the on-going sordid accusations on 2016 budget between Hon Abdumumuni Jibrin, the erstwhile Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations and the leadership of the House of Representatives.

"What is going on in the media is indeed disgraceful if actually the mentioned House members did the padding of the 2016 budget. I and others in the Senate deserve and demand unreserved apology from Chief Obasanjo for casting aspersions and denigrating our individual integrity and the institution we represent.”
Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, tongue-lashed Obasanjo, saying that if anyone should condemn others on corruption, it must not be Obasanjo.
In a text message to Vanguard, Senator Bwacha said Obasanjo “lacks moral authority to speak on corruption.”

Obasanjo should act as a father and elder statesman – Anyanwu

Also reacting, Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, PDP, Imo East, said:
“The way former President Obasanjo is going about the whole thing is not good. He is an elder statesman and a father to all of us and with this position in the society, he should invite the leadership of the National Assembly, raise issues with them and advise where necessary.
"He should be able to manage the situation by advising both the Executive and the Legislature. He is a father to all, he should not blow up issues at the moment. We all need one another for the development and growth of this country.”

If lawmakers are corrupt, they would have amended constitution for Obasanjo’s 3rd term – Mrakpor

The member representing Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency of Delta State, Joan Onyemaechi Mrakpor said that if the lawmakers were thieves as alleged by the former President, they would have collected his gratifications for his third term bid.
She said: “He is a very elder statesman. In my place, you can’t correct an elder and my bible says if an elder tells you what you don’t like, you won’t stay outside to correct him. I want to believe that he didn’t say that. If members of the National Assembly were rogues, they would have amended the constitution for his third term. They would have taken the benefit of what would have come to them for amending the constitution for our father to remain in office for 12 years.”
Also speaking the member represent Egor/Ikpoba Federal Constituency of Edo State, Ehiozuwa J. Agbonayinma said calling members of the National Assembly thieves was personal opinion of the former president, but it was also an indictment on him as a former president.
He said: “I will want him to face the real issue which is that under his watch, Chief Bola Ige and Chief Harry Marshal were killed.”
He also said that the former President that allegedly parades himself as a saint should account for the $16 billion power project fund and numerous tax payers money that were allegedly wasted during his administration.
“It was under his watch that money meant for us to have constant power supply was wasted and Nigerians were shortchanged. Nigerians can attest those that are criminals, rogues and thieves and those that are not.

“The former President had all the ample opportunity to make Nigeria among the leading nation but unfortunately he didn’t use the time that God has given to him to ask for forgiveness that during his time thousands of Nigerians were killed…”

Jibrin should be held responsible – Iriase

Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Pally Iriase, said that if there was any padding in the budget, the Appropriation Committee Chairman, Jibrin, should be held accountable, since he handled the affairs of the budget discreetly.

He said the House would have no choice but to drag Jibrin before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He said the attempt by Jibrin to drag the speaker into the matter was laughable, asserting that it was a diversionary tactics by Jibrin to rubbish the integrity of the leadership of the House.

Iriase, who represents Owan Federal constituency of Edo State, told journalists in Benin City: “Jibrin is rabble rousers, going by his antecedent, because he kept the details of the budget to himself for ulterior motive.
“I consider that as a rabble rousing nature of Jibrin and should not be taken seriously. You know me, if you remove integrity from me, I am a nobody and I pride myself in integrity.
“I could easily fold my arms and say he never mentioned me among the so called culprits. But as a Christian, I feel so bad when innocent, decent, honest people are being vilified by somebody who is the antithesis of what they are.
“It is unfortunate that bad news is good news as far as the media is concerned, otherwise questions will be asked if somebody approached you to fly this kind of kite that Jibrin is flying. I read this morning that he has released another can of worm that some 10 chairmen of committees padded the budget with several hundreds of billions. What was your job? It was to see that what was presented was good enough for final passage.
“This guy thinks he is smart and Nigerians should know who he is. What the House as a whole dealt with, is the line by line budget of all ministries, the details were kept away from the House by Jibrin, he alone knew the details.
“I am able to say this because I had the opportunity to be in the joint committee of the National Assembly and executive to clean up the mess perpetrated by Jibrin’s Appropriation Committee and the greatest problem we had then was that we can’t see the holistic view of the budget until I shouted; this can be verified because all the members are alive.
“The mess he is now referring to, which are no longer in the 2016 budget, are now history and he is dishing out those messy history which had been cleaned up. When did he realise all these he is talking about?
“You created the mess. He was fingered as wanting the budget to be a personal budget of his. How come he was able to gleefully go to channel TV in the heady days when the President first withheld ascent that wanted to take the Buhari’s government to the cleaners by accusing him of bringing unworkable budget which, according to him, they worked hard to make sense out of it? This is the same person talking because they changed him as committee chairman?
“There are many other things that we rather want to keep quiet about for the sake of not going libellous in the eyes of the public but if he does not keep quiet, because some of us pride ourselves in our integrity and as principal officer of the House, I feel bad that the same chairman that bungled an assignment put under him is now hoping he could bring down the roof.
“But if he does not take time, we will drag him before the EFCC so he can explain better what happened.
“Dogara is an upright leader and will never be involved in such rubbish he is saying and from day one, we knew that Jibrin was not sincere. But he should take time, else we will take drastic action that he will live to regret.”

Credit: Vanguard

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