Former Chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has taken his barrage of attacks against the leadership of the House a notch higher, as he last night claimed the existence of “institutional corruption” at the National Assembly.
He also claimed that those behind the “massive corruption” were responsible for his inability to prevent the alleged 2016 budget padding.
The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, last week, announced the removal of Jibrin following his ignominious role in the 2016 budget controversy.
He, however, denied the claim of bringing the legislature to disrepute in the wake of alleged budget padding, insisting that Mr. Dogara, his deputy, Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, wanted to use him to achieve their own ends.
It was his refusal to kowtow to their whims and caprices, he claimed, that led to his removal even though he had informed the Speaker of his decision to step down before the announcement of his sack.
Jibrin, who accused the quartet of Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor of being behind the padding, alleged that 10 chairmen inserted 2,000 fictitious projects worth N248 billion into the budget.
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The Kano lawmaker, however, also has an allegation of “allocating 20 projects worth N4.3billion to his constituency”, hanging on his neck.
Dogara and the other principal officers have protested their innocence, saying Jibrin’s allegations were “mere afterthoughts manufactured simply because the House relieved him of his position”.
But in an interview with Channels Television last night, the former Appropriation Committee chair said; “There is institutional corruption at the National Assembly, which we have to address”.
He said he was interested in triggering the reform needed to combat corruption in the legislature even though he declared that he “is not corrupt”.
“The case of the National Assembly today is that there is a trigger and we want to take advantage of the trigger to be able to force reform in the National Assembly. Not only reform in the budget of the National Assembly because people are looking at it from a narrow perspective. This issue is going to lead to a revolution in the National Assembly; a lot of corruption is at National Assembly. I want to use the word ‘trigger’.
“I have been part of the institution for five years, I have not been part of any corruption, I have never shared money with members of the National Assembly; we have come to a point that we state our position. The money they alleged that I benefitted from is mere blackmail”.
“Of course, I am the chairman of Appropriation, what I did is not only to promote my constituency but Nigeria as a whole”, he explained
Declaring that the padding of the 2016 budget was “completely off the board” compared to that of previous years, Jibrin said: “As I explained in the last few days, there were lots of insertions in the 2016 budget from the angle of the National Assembly”.
“I discussed with the speaker that the insertions were too many. Though we (the legislature) have the power to insert but it was senseless in view of the enormity of the insertions. I fought internally to ensure that the situation was checked. The insertions were passed.
“We did a statistics after collecting reports from the various committees. I discovered that in between the committees in the House, about 2000 projects were posted by the committees totaling about N224 billion and I was a bit worried about it.
“For five years, I have been working on budgets and of course, I have been part of the budgeting process. Since 1999 to date it has been outrageous.
“A lot of people have been asking me why haven’t I opened up? It is a difficult system and much more complex than what people think. But, I raised the issue internally of insertions and I fought the battle of my life”, Jibrin claimed.
According to the former Appropriation Committee chairman of the House, budget padding has been ongoing since 1999, “What I think is wrong is when the insertion goes out of proportion”.
“Every year, there have always been insertions, which is made up constituency projects. They do often cause friction and tension between both arms of government. The only difference is that in 2016, it went completely off the board. I stand by my word that there were lots of insertions”.