Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman of the House of Representatives committee on appropriation, says President Muhammadu Buhari never tackled him on budget padding allegations he raised against Yakubu Dogara, the speaker.
Jibrin had alleged that the leadership of the house padded the 2016 budget to the tune of over N284 billion.
But in his biography, ‘A Reed Made Flint’, authored by Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation, Dogara said Buhari told Jibrin not to raise the issue with him.
“As a principled and experienced leader that the president is, he sought to know where the other leaders of NASS were when the budget was padded by just four leaders of the house,” Dogara said.
“None of our traducers could answer the question. Since he does not suffer fools gladly, he told them that except they answer the question nobody should bring up the subject matter to him again.”
In his reaction on Wednesday, Jibrin said he wrote three letters to the president but did not get a response.
He said when he noticed a “barricade organised by Dogara around the president against me, I took my destiny in my own hands, continued the struggle and never made any attempt to see the president again”.
Jibrin’s response in full:
My attention has been drawn to excerpts of the book, A Reed Made Flint, an autobiography of Speaker Dogara published by Ovation and exclusively reported by TheCable. The report carried what are obviously verifiable bunch of lies in a desperate attempt to embark on an expensive image laundering by a panicky Speaker who has commenced the traditional slide into being a lame duck as he enters the final phase where members’ loyalty fully return to their state and constituency leaders, thus politically making the speaker a toothless bulldog.
I have restrained myself from commenting on this issue since I have done everything within my powers and the law to call for justice and several interventions from some of our leaders calling on me to stop further comments. I have therefore allowed the anti-graft and security agencies to play their role. But when such blatant lies are sold to the public in the guise of gospel truth, I have a responsibility to respond especially when the name of our President, Muhammadu Buhari, is shamelessly and disrespectfully dragged into it. However, while we wait for the full content of what is predictably a compendium of lies, distortions and misrepresentations of facts as far the issues relating to me are concerned, I will respond to some of the issues in the book as reported by the Cable.
1- THE CLAIM that I met Mr President to make my case where he turned me down and I was later again ferried to him by some security agents, where again he warned that the budget padding matter should never be brought before him.
MY RESPONSE: I wish to state categorically clear and without any iota of doubt that since I left as Chairman Appropriation after raising budget padding allegations and was later illegally and unconstitutionally suspended, I have NEVER set my eyes on President Buhari. Neither have I ever at any point in time discussed the matter with the President. I wrote three letters seeking audience with the President to discuss the matter but I neither got any acknowledgement nor response. I doubt if he has even seen the letters. .Thereafter, when I noticed there was a barricade organized by Dogara around the President against me, I took my destiny in my own hands, continued the struggle and never made any attempt to see the President again.
Let me also state that there was never a time during this period that any security agent or agency ferried me to the President talk less of the President warning that the matter should never be brought before him. It is such a shame that in a desperate bid to score a cheap point, Mr Speaker has descended so low not to only propagate falsehood against me but on our President who is known for his integrity and forthrightness. Please leave Mr President out of this matter.
I believe that in view of the gravity of this matter, the media and all well-meaning Nigerians have a responsibility to ask the President to confirm if this event ever occurred between me and him. It is Dogara’s last resort to incite the President and presidency against me after all the attempts to witch-hunt me have failed.
2-THE CLAIM that he does not interfere in committee works and the attempt to exonerate himself from projects he nominated to his constituency.
MY RESPONSE: It has been two years since the crisis. Probably Dogara is beginning to lose his memory perhaps because of the fatigue and fear of leaving office. There has never been a period or a day during the 2016 budget that Speaker Dogara did not call to give one instruction or the other. In fact, he personally chaired several meetings and gave clear instructions on what to do. All this are documented and in possession of the appropriate authorities. Infact it is a public knowledge that he told many people that his grouse with me is my refusal to comply with some instructions he gave me which I considered inappropriate.
For instance, when he wanted us to grossly increase the size of the budget for frivolous expenditure at the tail end of the budget process after several previous insertions, I refused and in contrast, for the first time in several years, I encouraged the appropriation committee to support my proposal to cut down the size of the expenditure. It was the right thing to do given the size of our revenue in 2016. Also for the first time in many years under my leadership, the oil benchmark was reduced because of the global oil price trend rather than increased as Speaker Dogara wanted. I still remain very proud of these decisions we took.
The following year when I left, 2 dollars was increased in the oil bench mark amounting to 240billion Naira. Traditionally, this amount is used to reduce deficit and this can be verified but watching from outside, to my utmost shock, the amount was added to the expenditure amidst revenue uncertainty. Neither members of the House nor Nigerians felt the benefit. These are questions to which Speaker Dogara should provide answers. Let me also state that it is a known fact in the House that Speaker Dogara interferes in almost every committee work dictating what to be done, creating unnecessary Ad-hoc committees to foster divide and rule among members to consolidate his hold on power and most importantly attracting disdain for his attitude of going behind to meet heads of MDAs in secret to undermine assignments he gives to members. This is a challenge for investigative journalists to verify by approaching members of the House.
Similarly, on the issue of nomination of projects to Speaker Dogara’s constituency, he has so quickly forgotten that he personally hand-wrote some of his instructions for project inclusions and in some cases even use his pen to amend some line items which are clearly documented and in possession of the appropriate authorities. In any case, what difference does it make if he instructed his staff to do same as claimed in the book? But again, the bigger issue here is not only the inclusion of such projects but the fact that he diverted some projects to his personal farm, which is fraudulent and a clear case of abuse of office and public trust.
Speaker Dogara claimed he was in London when everything on the whole budget work was completed but he will never admit my telephone conversation with him where he gave a standing instruction that I should do away with the Executive’s proposed amendments to the budget for an alternative option. The presidency was made to believe it was Hon Jibrin’s handiwork. We will all die and stand before God Almighty . If this telephone conversation and instruction never took place between me and Speaker Dogara, may I never see the blessings of God. I shouldered all the accusatioboth from the executive arm and the general public because I felt I was representing an institution. At the end, they denied me access to brief my colleagues and conspired against me! I had no other choice than to go public.
3-THE CLAIM that he was under pressure not to make me Chairman Appropriation by some people over the issue of trust, insinuation of blackmail and my contribution to his election
MY RESPONSE: Who were those people putting him under pressure? Aren’t they some of those people who warned me never to support him to become Speaker and remain very angry with me, some till date, that I did not heed their advice? But pressure on appointments is nothing new. In most appointments, we always have those for or against. Mine wasn’t anything different especially that it was a very bitter contest, tight victory of 8 votes margin and I was practically the public enemy number one!
The candidacy of Speaker Dogara was EXTREMELY unpopular in some parts of the country. He was not the party choice. I defied wise counsel to toe party line from My Governor, Sen Kwankwaso, Emir of Kano, many highly- placed citizens, the APC and finally the president himself who had the last meeting with us. I have since publicly apologized to all of them. That simply explained why I had little support from some of these people when the crisis started because everywhere I go, they say we warned you, you never listened, go stew in your juice. Yet Dogara could boast of making me chairman appropriation when I served four unblemished years as chairman finance of equal standing with appropriation. Moving to appropriation only provided a different experience from finance which deals with revenue to expenditure that forms the core of appropriation, unlike his own case where we lip frogged him from chairman House services all the way to Speaker of the House.
In my combined period as chairman finance and later appropriation, despite the witch hunt and desperation from Dogara to hunt me down, I was never accused of stealing from the house or committee or abuse my office or public trust. And nobody has question my capacity on the job and accomplishments I left behind. I wonder where the issue of trust is coming from.
Dogara’s passing comment that I did a great job and supported him 100% in his election is hypocritical and self-contradictory of the earlier comments he made about me in the book. He is being economical with the huge personal sacrifice I made because I put everything including my key relationships on the line. I believed in him and rose above petty sentiments and independence of the legislature to support him. The talk about trust and blackmail without citing instances is complete nonsense.
4-THE CLAIM by Dogara that I failed to drag the senate into the matter.
MY RESPONSE: During the crisis, I came under severe pressure to drag the senate into the issue and in particular, the speaker was miffed that I left out senator Danjuma Goje. In fact, he offered at some point to get me back into the House so long as I will join the senate in the matter. All he wanted is to incite me against the senate and the presidency to get more backing to fight me over a matter for which he has repeatedly failed to appear before the anti-graft and security agencies to clear his name. My position is that I am not a senator. I am not in a position to speak for the senate. If something is wrong in the senate, it is the responsibility of a senator to raise it not me. My responsibility is to the House to which I was elected. If speaker Dogara believes that the senate is culpable in budget padding, he has a responsibility to raise it as well rather than hide under the guise of “Jibrin is shielding the senate.”
I urge Speaker Dogara to without further delay apologise to Mr President for seriously embarrassing him with the lies in the book about my encounter with him. If such outright lies are contained in the book regarding the number one citizen, I wonder what other false information he must have fed the publisher.
I only sympathize with the Publisher whom I hold in high esteem and has worked so hard to build a reputation. He has no fault as he relied on false stories fed him as far as this aspect of the book is concerned. I crave his indulgence to bear with us as further scrutiny with surely emerge. As he wrote in his back-page column in This day last week, it is his first book. Unfortunately, his client misinformed him on some aspect of the book which will cause some
Dogara has rewarded my sacrifice for him and the institution of the house with an almost two years’ suspension, during which period I have been unconstitutionally denied representation of my people, lost 2 years of my 4 years mandate, threatened, blackmailed, witch-hunted, persecuted and exposed to life-threatening danger. I have remained resolute and maintained a healthy relationship with my state and constituents.
Finally, I wish to thank all well-meaning Nigerians who have made several attempts to intervene with a view to seeing my return to the House, and their patience in the face of several instances of reneges from the Speaker. The last of such attempts was a few weeks ago when the members from Kano state approached the Speaker and drew his attention to the need for my urgent return to the House since I have served out the 180 days. He requested the 23 of them to write a letter and ensure they all sign. They did. He further requested that I endorsed the letter, which I did. He reneged.
This is the sixth attempt at such efforts where the speaker had reneged. I have decided to bring this issue here to disabuse the minds of those who may assume I am being arrogant. I am not arrogant and not bigger than the institution of the House. I have reconciled with many of my colleagues who felt offended in one way or the other and look forward to working closely with them for the Nigerian people when I return to the House. I am rather convinced that the Speaker is insisting on a personal blanket apology from me to validate this type of publications and clear himself of any wrongdoing. A simple question is, why has the Speaker refused to announce my resumption date after completing my suspension even if there is a condition attached just like the senate transparently did in the case of Sen. Ali Ndume? He has remained silent on that while putting pressure on me to forward an apology when he has already perfected his plans to use it in his latest image laundering campaign at my detriment.