Abdulmumin Jibrin And The Dishonourable Honourables: A Rejoinder By Zayyad Abdullahi
“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason”- Mark Twain
It is well known among my social media circle that I’m not the biggest fan of the recently sacked (or resigned depending on which side of the fence you lean) Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin. It was therefore with a lot of snickering mischief that my good friend Fahd Isa directed me to the recent post by Mr Gimba Kakanda – a brilliant young writer whose shrewd social and political commentaries I often thoroughly enjoy. Normally, with opinion pieces I simply read, call out the absurdity in my head and move on. In this case, however, to do so would be to give credibility to Gimba’s impressive but illusory assemblage of verbiages. The manner the writer set out to portray the embattled Jibrin, albeit failingly, as a modern day Robin Hood, would have you thinking it was a hit job by veteran whitewasher and procured mouthpiece, Dele Momodu. The writer’s combination half-truths, deliberate omissions and gross misrepresentations screamed for a rejoinder.
I’ll never forget the image of Jibrin gloating on the floor of the House moments after vote count was completed and it appeared his man Dogara had won. Maybe he was celebrating because a man whose political ideologies he shares emerged victorious, maybe it was because they had managed to neutralise the forces of a certain Lagos-based political Machiavelli but my best guess is that it was because his political calculations had come off and the man that would ensure he got that juicy committee had won. Dogara was sworn in as Speaker of the House and soon after that Jibrin cashed in his political investment for the office of the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation. Therein, lied the beginning of the end for the very overzealous Member.
True to the disingenuous nature of Gimba’s post, he claimed Jibrin’s only crime was “attempting to discharge [his] constitutional duties, which weren’t in tandem with those of the Executive.” Maybe the writer made this statement oblivious to the fact that Jibrin himself attempted to sneak N4.1b worth of clearly inflated projects for his constituency into the budget but then again, maybe a lot of us were just too naïve to understand that was just Jibrin carrying out his constitutional duty. This makes one wonder what duties Sambo Dasuki was discharging when he misappropriated more than $2b worth of defence funds but that’s a debate for another day. He then went ahead to accuse the public of suffering from “systemic ignorance” while conveniently forgetting that Jibrin was the Chairman of the Appropriation committee which would have made it impossible for the principal officers to allocate the N20b to their constituencies as Jibrin claims they did without his endorsement.
Moreover, if Jibrin was privy to this despicable information why did he not reject their advances and expose them instantly? Why did he wait till he was eased out of his juicy office to suddenly grow a conscience? His justification is that he was first trying to fight it internally before sounding the alarm. While I appreciate Jibrin’s effort to singlehandedly end corruption within the NASS, how does he explain going on Channels TV to passionately defend the budget he claims Dogara et al padded. If Jibrin and the writer have forgotten, Nigerians haven’t forgotten Jibrin’s episode on National TV where he called the Executive all sort of names and even arrogantly issued an ultimatum; either the president signs the (padded) budget they sent to him or have any other budget vetoed by the legislative. Was that also Jibrin’s unusual way of fighting corruption within the NASS? Or maybe it was just his way of gaining the trust of his principal officers before strategically bringing down their house of lies. Perhaps, the writer has also forgotten the enormous role that Dogara played in resolving the budget impasse. Whereas Jibrin was busy spoiling for a fight with the Executive and rallying his colleagues via text messages, Dogara was busy meeting with Vice President Osinbajo looking for ways to put an end to the standoff.
While it’s true that the National Assembly, fundamentally, is full of dishonest personalities, Jibrin is at the top of the hypocrisy chain. Which is why it is laughable that the writer tried to use the clientele of a Tea Stall as an opposing voice so he could make weak arguments for Jibrin’s integrity. Though I appreciate the organic appeal of such a place, the Arewa equivalent of a beer parlour is hardly a place for high level intellectual discourse. In his failed attempt to paint Jibrin as a victim of his own bravery, the writer accidentally let slip Jibrin’s own hypocrisy. The writer mentions how needless it was for Jibrin to prove his pro-Buhari credentials because he himself found it hard to understand Jibrin’s sudden volte-face; one moment he was on TV calling the Presidency clueless, the next moment he is on Twitter standing with Buhari.
While playing the political game of thrones, Jibrin has been able to completely outsmart everyone including himself. His calculations or in this case miscalculations have succeeded in landing him in a political no man’s land. The Legislative don’t like him, the Executive doesn’t want him. He’s now just a confused inbetweener – a Tweener. These days, Jibrin spends his days trying to get back into the good books of the public by claiming to stand with Buhari in an attempt to appear pro-masses and save his fast dwindling reputation. His integrity on the other hand is just doing like this, doing like that…blinking and shaking.
Zayyad Abdullahi writes from Abuja. He can be reached via Twitter @zvyyvd