A simple question from President Muhammadu Buhari to Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman of house committee on appropriation, put paid to his allegation of “budget padding” against Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, a new book has revealed.
Jibrin had alleged that the 2016 budget was padded to the tune of over N284 billion by Dogara and three other principal officers of the house of reps.
The others are Lasun Yusuf (deputy speaker), Leo Ogor (minority leader) and Alhassan Doguwa (whip).
On meeting with Buhari to make his case, Jibrin was asked by the president if it is possible for four officers to pad a budget in a national assembly made up of 469 members — and told him not to raise the issue with him again without providing an answer.
In his biography, ‘A Reed Made Flint’, authored by publisher of Ovation, Dele Momodu, Dogara also detailed the circumstances that led to the falling out with Jibrin, who was subsequently removed as chairman of the appropriation committee and suspended from the house.
The biography is due for public presentation on December 26, 2017, to mark the 5oth birthday of the speaker.
Dogara said: “Although Hon. Jibrin himself had subtly blackmailed Mr President on a Channels TV interview, he still managed to get some elements in the security services to ferry him before Mr. President where he made the allegations of padding against us.
“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. 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.
“That was how the lying cowards left him and never returned. They dare not mention anyone in the Senate or the House Leadership when every informed person knew that no position on any aspect of the budget can be taken without the concurrence of the Senate.”
Ironically, Jibrin was the one who nominated Dogara for speakership on the floor of the house in June 2015, having jettisoned his own bid and failed in an attempt to align with Femi Gbajabiamila, the other contender.
“I have to say that to his credit. He was there. He really did a great job,” Dogara said in the biography.
“I will say that although Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin wasn’t with our team initially, he later supported me 100%, whole-heartedly. Luckily his secretariat wasn’t far from ours and he was handy.”
Many still warned Dogara that Jibrin could not be trusted, that he is a serial turncoat and “it is suicidal to entrust such an important post to such a man”.
Momodu wrote: “Dogara confronted Jibrin again with all these warnings but like a desperate Trojan eager to assume his command, Jibrin swore heaven and earth. Dogara eventually capitulated on that score. He gave Abdulmumin Jibrin his much cherished post of Chairman Committee on Appropriations. But as feared, Dogara would soon carry the cross of his decision to trust Jibrin.
“As Chairman Committee on Appropriations, Jibrin’s first major task was the Budget. As a leader who believes in giving all Chairmen and members of committees the breathing space to do their work, Dogara right from day one did not exert undue interference in the work of Jibrin’s Committee.”
Dogara said: “My kind of nature is not the kind that insists on breathing down your neck, having given you an assignment. So, attempting to interfere in everything committees are doing was not my line. I believe in giving everyone considered competent enough to handle posts to thrive in them. I don’t believe in making my colleagues feel distrusted. I give you that freedom to do your work. Having trusted you I will not bother you too much.”
“I never went to Jibrin to ask for anything in the Budget. Never! Even once!”
‘NOMINATE A PROJECT’
Momodu narrated that one day however, Jibrin went to Dogara to ask him to nominate any constituency project for inclusion in the budget.
“This got Dogara wondering but based on Jibrin’s request Dogara asked some of his staff to look at the needs in his Tafawa Balewa/Bogoro/Dass constituency, just like any other Rep had the right to do. He asked them to look into what could be done to help bring succour to the people of the constituency in line with his responsibility as their representative and in line with the necessity of attracting federal presence to them,” he wrote.
“Dogara’s staff articulated some projects they considered amenable to the people’s welfare and capable of bringing succour to them.”
According to Dogara, “Occasionally both leadership of the Senate and the House would meet and ask (Danjuma) Goje and Jibrin to give the position of things, how discussions on the 2016 Budget were going on, how they were doing and so on and so forth. But I gave him absolute free hand to operate. He did that up to a point that the Budget was written and compiled I hadn’t seen anything. I didn’t know what was there. As a matter of fact I didn’t even know the kind of projects that he has included for me or any other person in the Budget. I was even in London when they submitted the details to the President for his assent.
“It was only after I got back home that Jibrin brought the details of the budget to me for the very first time. Absolutely, I had no hand, no prior meeting with the committee. I didn’t sit with them at the secretariat to say ‘Oh, include these projects for me. You must do this. You must do that.’ Never! Even for a day.”