Speaker, House of Representatives,
Yakubu Dogara and Former Chairman of
the House of Representatives’
Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin
Jibrin

Since the inauguration of the Eighth
National Assembly, its leadership has not
been spared of scandals or controversies.
It all started with the Senate whose
leadership emerged by allegedly forging
its own Rules with the alleged active
collaboration of the immediate former
Clerk of the National Assembly. Beside
this particular forgery case that is already
in court, the President of the Senate,
Bukola Saraki, also has another case to
answer at the Code of Conduct Tribunal
which borders on his failure to allegedly
declare some of his assets on the Assets
Declaration Form for public office
holders.
All this while, Speaker Yakubu Dogora
and his colleagues at the House of
Representatives were portraying
themselves before the Nigerian public as
being the true representatives of the
populace and “good boys” of the ruling
All Progressives Party leadership. In the
first place, there was a sex scandal that
allegedly involved three of the House
members. And Speaker Dogora stoutly
rose up in defence of those members
requesting their accuser, the American
Ambassador to Nigeria, to prove his
accusation against the accused
lawmakers beyond any reasonable doubt
by providing the video evidence. The
accuser has yet to come forward with the
video evidence as demanded by the
House leadership and hence the scandal
seems to have died a natural death.
And suddenly from the unlikely quarters
comes the mother of all scandals: budget
padding, which was not entirely new to
the Nigerian populace. But what is unique
about this particular scandal is that
Dogora and three other principal officers
of the House allegedly sought to corner
for themselves, according to the former
Chairman of the Committee on
Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, about
N40bn out of the N100bn earmarked for
the whole National Assembly members
under the guise of some controversial
constituency projects.
Instead of being remorseful of his actions,
Dogora reportedly threw the bombshell
saying that budget padding was not a
crime known to the Nigerian constitution
using his background as a lawyer. And on
that basis, he won’t resign his
appointment or step down from his
position as the Speaker of the House of
Representatives.
Actually, it is too late for keen watchers of
Nigerian politics to blame Dogara. This is
because the man has been part of the
National Assembly politics, whose
members have developed very thick skins
to scandals and controversies. Public
outcries against appropriating jumbo
salaries/allowances to themselves have
not moved them to change their ways all
these years. Up till date, the budget
details of the National Assembly are still
shrouded in secrecy. And to Dogora, since
he is not a first timer at the Lower House,
he was already used to these scandals.
To him, therefore, this new scandal of
which he is the arrow-head may be one of
such that will soon fizzle out provided he
can procure a controversial vote of
confidence from a majority of his
colleagues in the House. Yes, we use the
word procure because an attempt to get
the approval of most of his colleagues to
maintain his leadership position in the
House may not go for free. In fact, his
accuser- Jubrin, has also alleged that $
20,000 was being allegedly distributed to
the House members through one of his
allies for this particular purpose.
And to underscore the gravity of the
alleged offence, Jubrin chose to call it
“reckless insertions” because of the fact
that the act had gone overboard this time
round to the extent that some ministries
couldn’t recognise their own budget
estimates when they were called upon to
defend their estimates. Their budget
estimates had been completely
transformed by these alleged reckless
insertions which eventually caused untold
delay in the passage of the 2016 budget
and consequently caused further delays
in its cash-backing. And it is so bad that
up till Monday, August 8, 2016, some
MDAs had yet to receive any form of cash
backing of their capital votes even though
they had been given approval to
commence the procurement process for
their respective capital projects. That is to
show the extent of damage that these
“reckless insertions” had done which have
also compounded the problem of hunger
in the land. The executive may have its
own share of the blame, but the main
cause of the problem is traceable to the
legislature’s door-steps.
The Nigerian public is now watching the
Presidency and the leadership of theAPC
whether they will allow the security
agencies to do their jobs by allowing them
to investigate the matter with a view to
determining whether Jubrin is only crying
foul over a non-issue just because he
was relieved of his juicy position or he
actually has a case that he can prove
against the suspected members of the
House leadership. And if the party decides
to treat the scandal as an in-house issue,
the public and the international
community are still watching. They are
watching a government whose main
cardinal point is fighting corruption. One
thing is clear, unless when called upon to
give account of their stewardship, most
Nigerian public office holders do not feel
any sense of moral burden to resign their
appointments or positions no matter the
height of the accusation levelled against
them. Name the crime, unless when the
law is allowed to take it rightful course, a
Nigerian office holder or a politician in
particular usually does not feel obliged to
show any moral burden to resign his
appointment as may be demanded by
public opinion. And so the Speaker’s
stance on the scandal demonstrates the
attitude of a typical Nigerian politician
when confronted with a similar issue. Of
course, this lackadaisical attitude has
been part of our home-grown democracy
unless the current administration is not
ready to allow this unfortunate trend to
continue as part of the business as usual.
Even before the present economic
recession, the National Assembly has
been inundated with public outcries
denouncing their ostentatious ways of life
and their opulent lifestyles in the face of a
majority of Nigerians living in abject
poverty and penury. Little did we know
that budget padding is another illicit way
of siphoning the nation’s treasury in
billions of naira. But these federal
legislators seem not to bother or yield to
these public outcries. They seem to have
no shame as long as they can secure
their seats by all means. Ordinarily, this
kind of scandal that is trending now will
not play out itself into the public domain.
It is therefore our prayers that God
Himself will rise and defend the rights of
the downtrodden masses of this nation.
But before this eventual divine
intervention which may come as the last
resort, we expect the government to play
its constitutional roles as the custodian of
rules and order in a well-organised
society and in the process ensure the
promotion of true values or good culture
in public service and the society at large.
Unless that is done, we may just be
moving in circles- a state of motion
without appreciable movement towards
our desired goal/destination as a nation.
This nation needs leadership by example.
But alas, we regret to remark that our
National Assembly members over the
years have been falling short of this lofty
expectation that ought to be the norm and
not anything close to extraordinary. It is
high time we began to copy good
democratic values from other societies
that are doing well in the art and act of
good governance. And the time to start is
NOW!

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