A former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, opened up on Thursday on why the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, sacked him on Wednesday.
Jibrin, an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kano State, claimed in a statement that he was being victimised by the Speaker because he objected to a request Dogara made that he (Jibrin) should allocate projects worth N40bn to him in the 2016 budget.
He alleged that the projects would have been shared among four principal officers, namely, Dogara; the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
Jibrin, who demanded the immediate resignation of Dogara and the three other principal officers, added that the four met and took the “unilateral” decision to request the inclusion of the N40bn projects in the budget.
According to Jibrin, when he was approached by the four with the information, he declined to oblige them in a bid to assert the independence of his committee.
He said the N40bn was to have come from the N100bn earmarked for the constituency projects of all lawmakers.
Jibrin said, “These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40bn out of the N100bn allocated to the entire National Assembly.
“The four of them met and took that decision, in addition to billions of wasteful projects running to over 20bn, they allocated to their constituencies. They must come out clean. My inability to admit into the budget almost 30bn personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the three other principal officers, also became an issue.
However, in a response, the leadership of the House described Jibrin’s allegations as an “afterthought” just to express his anger over his sacking.
It also said there was no connection between his sacking and his opposition to the immunity clause for presiding officers proposed by the House.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, who made the reaction, noted that Jibrin was removed because the leadership reserved the prerogative of appointing and removing committee chairmen whenever they were seen to no longer be able to perform their duties.
Namdas stated further, “Most of the allegations on the 2016 budget process and his opposition to immunity of presiding officers are non-issues and (but) mere afterthought manufactured simply because the House relieved him of his position.
“If he had all these ‘facts’ before, why didn’t he make them public? Why is he doing that now?
“Jibrin, like any other member of the House, knows that there are conventions and precedents as they relate to budgets and projects for principal officers of the National Assembly. Why is he making it an issue now?
“In any case, he is entitled to his opinion as a Nigerian and as a legislator, while acting within the laws of Nigeria and rules of the House.”
But Jibrin added that his offence was that he dared to tell members the whole truth when the heat was turned on him by colleagues, who felt that they were short-changed in the allocation of projects.
The lawmaker did not comment on the N4bn projects he too was accused to have allocated to himself in his Bebeji Federal Constituency in Kano State.
However, he added that his removal was timed to coincide with the annual recess of the House to weaken his power to fight back.
But, he assured the Speaker and the three other principal officers that the issue would remain alive and must be addressed when members would have resumed in September.
Jibrin stated that rather than tell the truth, the leadership created the impression that he was sacked because he padded the 2016 budget.
He described the reason given for his removal as “complete misrepresentation, false, mischievous, unfair and a calculated attempt to bring my name to disrepute, blackmail, silence and use me as a scapegoat.”[Punch]