A new vista has been introduced into the corruption allegations currently rocking the House of Representatives as a former Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, Friday, accused some senior lawmakers in the House of living large by appropriating illegal allowances to themselves at the expense of Nigerian taxpayers.
The accused lawmakers, who currently serve in various capacities as principal officers of the lower legislative chambers, have allegedly shared more than N10 billion amongst themselves as “office running cost”.
Mr. Jibrin, who has turned into a crusader of sorts against official sleaze in the nation’s legislative arm, accused the principal officers of living a life of luxury, which they never enjoyed before becoming legislators.
The former appropriation committee chair, who made the latest allegations in a statement last night, as part of the unfolding budget padding scandal he triggered more than a month ago, said the 10 principal officers and the funds they have allegedly received so far as running costs, included the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, who allegedly got the lion share of N1.5 billion.
Others on the list included Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, N800 million; Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, N1.2 billion; his deputy, Buba Jibril, N1.2 billion; House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, N1.2 billion; and his deputy, Pally Iriase, N700 million.
The rest included Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, N1.2 billion; Minority Whip, Yakubu Barde, N700 million; Deputy Minority Whip, Binta Bello, N700 million; and one Chuma he listed as Minority Whip, N700 million.
This is the first time Jibrin will be specifically mentioning Mr. Gbajabiamila’s name since he began waging political and media war against the House leadership for weeks.
In his statement on Friday, the Kano federal lawmaker said he listed the House leader and other principal officers to show that he was not only waging a war to remove Mr. Dogara from office but also to stop the questionable office running largesse, which he described as the sole unifying force for the 360-member House.
“Most of these members use it to acquire properties, cars and live a life of luxury they never lived before coming to the House”, Mr. Jibrin said.
He vowed to continue the fight because “It is only when the legislature comes with purity that effective oversight will be carried out and investigative hearing to expose fraud and corruption can be undertaken”.
Mr. Jibrin said he was waging the campaign with the hope that it would bring about a lasting turnaround in the fraudulent premise upon which many aspiring lawmakers readily base their ambitions.
“The consequential effect of dealing with corruption in the House, especially the allowances issue, will take its toll on even elections. Candidates usually spend so much money hoping that they can recoup from the huge allowances they will receive when elected into House.
“When you know that there is no such money in the House to be shared, I am sure nobody will want to put in so much money just to win an election to the House.
“The resultant effect will be that only people who truly want to serve will vie for the office, and voters will be obliged to vote according to the dictate of their conscience. This is just one advantage”, Mr. Jibrin said.
He also ascribed his perseverance in the budget padding scandal to his natural desire for political advocacy.
“I have said it repeatedly that this activism has been running in my blood, and thankfully the fallout of the 2016 budget became the trigger and provided me with the right avenue”.
Mr. Jibrin, therefore, implored Nigerians to remain steadfast and vigilant as he leads the cause to liberate it from those he described as corrupt elements.
“As we continue this struggle to wipe out corruption and restore sanity in the House of Representatives, I will continue to urge Nigerians to remain vigilant as these corrupt elements can go to any length to change the narration and evade justice”, Jibrin said.
The House leadership is yet to react to this latest round of allegation by the former appropriation committee chair.