Recently sacked Chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has said he made a “grave error of judgment” by working for the emergence of Yakubu Dogara as Speaker.
The lawmaker, who has been on a tell-it-all spree since his removal as chairman of the appropriation committee last week, said it only took few weeks after Mr. Dogara’s emergence as Speaker for him (Jibrin) to realize that the former’s “innocent looking personality” was a farce.
“It took few weeks after his election as Speaker for me to realize I never really knew him (Dogara) well. I was hasty to judge him by his innocent looking personality”, he said.
“When you see a house you sacrificed everything to build is falling apart and the driver believes he is firmly in charge because he has eight votes advantage, you are left with no choice than to tie your seat belt for obvious eventuality. I must admit I made an error of judgment.
“I don’t know to whom and from where I will start apologizing for not heeding to wise counsel. There is nothing I am saying now that I have not discussed or warned Speaker Dogara on the few occasions that I sought and got private audience with him”, the All Progressives Congress lawmaker representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency added.
Jibrin also disclosed that contrary to public perception, his recent disclosures on alleged budget padding by Mr. Dogara and some principal officers, was not because he fell out with the Speaker, saying “Many members of the House and Nigerians will be shocked to know that there has never been good times between myself and Speaker Dogara”.
Giving more details on the alleged padding of the 2016 budget, the lawmaker in a statement last night, revealed that the insertion of N40billion into the fiscal document was done at a secret location with the backing of Mr. Dogara and three principal officers.
Apart from the Speaker, he listed the other principal officers as Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun, House Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor.
All of them have washed their hands off the matter, accusing Jibrin of attempting to bring down the house on everyone because of his removal as chairman of the appropriation committee.
But Jubrin insists the quartet were involved and that he needed his colleagues to listen to his side of the story and set up a panel to probe the matter.
Jibrin, who said he had to bear the public bashing arising from the padding, said 10 Committee chairmen were also involved in injecting N284b into the budget with 2, 000 fictitious projects.
He said unknown to his colleagues, his inability to intimate the entire House about the budget matter was well planned and executed by Dogara and the others.
According to him: “During the budget period, when they discovered that I was not the kind of a person they could use to perpetrate their illegality, Mr. Speaker and the three other principal officers took away the entire Appropriation Committee secretariat to a secret location where all sort of insertions were made into the budget.
“The blackmail has always been, Abdul people will laugh at you if anything goes wrong between you and Dogara because of the lead role you played and the many toes you stepped on to get him elected.
“It’s been a painful experience. Again the secretariat was taken away from me on Speaker Dogara’s instruction for the second time to a location I don’t know and all sort of insertions into the budgets were made and returned to me for signature.
“I said over my dead body! It was a massive crisis behind the scene until the early morning of the Friday that Mr President assented the budget.
“It was Sen Danjuma Goje that brokered a compromise that since the Deputy Speaker leads the Harmonisation Committee, he should also sign such that the Harmonisation Committee will share responsibility with us.
“Senator Goje pleaded with me so hard all night and later shouted heavily on me, reminding me that he is not talking to me as a Senator but as a father. I cried heavily all night.
“When the budget Harmonisation Committee headed by Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun gave out 80 per cent concession across board to the executive demands during the harmonisation negotiation, it was agreed that the remaining 20 per cent should go to the entire NASS.
“The Deputy Speaker excused himself that he wanted to go and consult with Mr. Speaker. He came back after few hours and in an unprecedented display of greed, presented to me a hand written note distributing the remaining 20 per cent to only principal officers.
“70 per cent of the 20 per cent was reserved for Mr. Speaker and himself while the remaining 30 per cent of the 20 per cent goes to other principal officers.
“I am sure he will recognise the handwriting when he sees it. My colleagues didn’t know all of these.
“Mr Speaker also directed me to create what I advised him will be a controversial line item under Service Wide Vote to introduce about N20 billion project using the name of NASS.
“He directed me to see a highly-placed PDP politician, which I did and collected the documents. I advised him repeatedly against it but he kept pressuring me until I bluntly told him I will not!
“When the Appropriation Committee received all the budget reports from standing committees, an analysis was conducted. We discovered that about 10 only out of the 96 Standing Committees of the House introduced about 2,000 (two thousand) projects without the knowledge of their committee members amounting to about N284, 000, 000, 000 ( Two hundred and eighty four billion).
“I was alarmed. But I was cautious because at our pre-budget meeting with the committee chairmen, I was clearly warned not to touch their budgets. I reported the matter to the speaker. He did nothing about it obviously because he was working behind the scene with the committee chairmen.
“That was the beginning of the whole budget problem from the side of House and the whole exercise had to go through several versions before it was passed.
“So, is it Abdul that introduced 2000 projects into budget worth N284billion? But I quietly bore the pain and abuses from all over the country and continued to defend the committee’s inputs as a show of loyalty to the institution I represent which I so much love and still have many great minds in there.
“Apart from Chairman Agriculture Hon Mongunu who owned up and explained his inputs at the only executive session I was allowed to attend, the other chairmen who loaded the budget kept quiet and watched me bashed from every angle by angry Nigerians”.