OPINION

Dogara, Budget Padding And The Insensitivity Of A Recalcitrant By Haruna Mohammed Salisu

Any keen observer of historical antecedents in the Nigerian political space is not and will not be puzzled by the ongoing drama in the country’s Green Chamber.  Exchange of verbal assaults and insults, which often transmogrify to blows and punches—to protect self interest, political godfathers and the proclivity of corruption that define our lawmakers.

Issues of serious national concern especially as they affect the poor are given less attention and where attention is given to those issues, some clandestine motives and political capital might be in the offing. Few among our lawmakers are exception.

However, Nigerians were not surprised when Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano), after being  fired as Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations over allegations bordering on corruption, unprofessionalism and abuse of office started raining a plethora of insults, malicious and damning allegations against the Speaker, Barr Ibrahim Yakubu Dogara.

Jibrin alleged that his removal was linked to his refusal to concede to Dogara’s outrageous demands to “allocate to themselves N40 bn out of the N100 bn allocated to the entire National Assembly”. But why did Jibrin failed to let the cat out of the bag until he was fired on his position?

In view of Dogara’s personality, political history, positions held in the house, testimonies from friends, colleagues and political superiors, does he has the potentials or indicators to commit the allegations leveled against him? What is the legality or otherwise of constituency projects upon whose shoulders Jibrin rests his allegations that the Speaker has padded the budget and “allocated to themselves” whopping sum of money? An answer to these questions will validate or refute Jibrin’s claims and allegations.

Barr. Ibrahim Yakubu Dogara, the speaker of the 8th assembly has a long political history marked with struggles, resistance, resilience and successes. Here is a lawmaker from a “minority” tribe, a Christian from a dominated Muslim state who defied odds and transcends borders to be where he is today. His political success in a Muslim dominated constituency is not unconnected with his detribalized personality, integrity, honesty, exemplary leadership accompanied with hard work and the zeal to carry everybody along.

Yakubu Dogara is not an accidental politician who bumped into politics for pecuniary gains; rather he was driven by his love for humanity and dedication to service. Dogara as Primary school teacher in Bauchi was eventful and inspiring for both his pupils and colleagues. His love for God exemplified by his Christian living made it divinely possible for the NYSC authorities to post him to serve at the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF) secretariat, Akwa Ibom state.

He went further to demonstrate rare honesty during his private practice, when a certain General of the Nigerian Army who happened to be one of his clients died without informing his family about all his properties, Dogara stunned the world, especially the deceased’s wife who was astonished by his quintessential honesty when he showed up with all the property documents of the late General.

The traumatized General’s wife was speechless over the rare honesty of the ‘God fearing Barrister’ which made the widow to bless him in six words—“it shall be well with you”. Dogara the world knows is not a primitive accumulator of wealth, nor a mammon driven individual.

Yakubu Dogara has become a household name not only in his constituency, but the entire Bauchi State. This is characteristically linked to his numerous interventions in people’s oriented projects and his political dexterity which cut across boundaries. He has rendered assistance, offered various kinds of social packages to his constituents, built numerous worship centers and facilitated several religious programmes and recently collaborated with “Doctors on the Move Africa” to provide free medical services to the entire citizens of Bauchi state.

He has legitimately attracted several roads and bridges to his constituency, some of which are still ongoing, promoted inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony especially in his restive community through marriages and other forms of social cohesions. His all-inclusive leadership in and out of the house is undisputable.

Those credentials catapulted him above his colleagues in the Green Chamber, gave him an opportunity to hold several positions in the house throughout his legislative career. And interestingly, he has done it without fear or favor.

For example, in the 7th Assembly, Dogara was chairman, committee on House services, a position he held for 8 years. No lawmaker has ever had the opportunity to hold that position for 4 years throughout the history of the house. Dogara did for 8 years. Why? Because he was honest, transparent, incorruptible and accountable throughout the period, despite having the opportunity to do otherwise, ostensibly for his personal gains. Several lawmakers who held the position prior to him were marred with corruption and abuse of office which culminated to their dismissals.

Testimonies of exemplary leadership from friends, colleagues and superiors who worked with him will clearly spell out whether he has the capacities and tendencies of being corrupt as Jibrin wanted the public to believe. Former Speaker of the house and the incumbent Governor of Sokoto Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as part of his reasons for supporting the emergence of Dogara as his successor were that, Dogara was honest, transparent and accountable throughout the years they have worked with.

It should be noted that prior to the emergence of Tambuwal as speaker, Dogara was an ardent opponent and an ally of the then anointed candidate of the then People’s Democratic Party. Despite the stiff opposition that was obvious, Tambuwal having worked with Dogara and was satisfied of his stewardship, believe that he will be a good successor, hence endorse him against the wish of the APC which fielded Femi Gbagabiamila for the position.

It was glaring however that, despite opposition from the APC, Dogara with the support of honorable members became the speaker. His overwhelming victory is a clear indication of the support he enjoys from his colleagues, including Jibrin who was as well satisfied that the right man for the job is the same person he is hell bent to label as a “budget padder”.

It is politically predictable that the rising profile of Dogara has attracted the envy and jealousy of some obsolete and discredited political oligarchs who squandered their political goodwill on the casino of corruption and ego-centrism. These desperados are now instigating their political errands boys to malign and impugn the impeccable and immaculate reputation of Dogara for their political expedience.

Constituency projects and the question of padding

Although many political pundits have reservations about constituency projects and how they are executed in Nigeria, but it is important to note that the 1999 constitution is unequivocal about it. The constitution has distinctively provided room for lawmakers to house constituency projects in the budget. It is also categorical on the powers conferred on NASS on appropriations. Section 59 of the constitution has confers on the National Assembly final say with regard to budget and sections 4 and 80(4) also provided room for the National Assembly to make inputs with regards to appropriations. So how could that be termed as padding? Is Jibrin ignorant of these provisions?

The identity of a recalcitrant

Though Abdulmumin Jibrin is unknown in his village, let alone his constituency. He is one of the beneficiaries of the large Kwankwasiya political dynasty in 2011. He launched himself to limelight ignominiously in 2014 when he blackmailed the then Finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala over budget implementation. He tried all he could to destroy the woman’s hard-earned international reputation, but the woman left him to God.

Jibrin has been a serial blackmailer and backbiter who jumped into politics for fame and wealth. His love for money was unleashed on poor students of Nassarawa State University, Keffi when he shylockly “increased the price” of his lecture notes “handouts” to N2000 with a threat to fail any student who was unable to purchase it within a week.

His blackmailing antics took another dimension during the 2015 electioneering when his popular PDP opponent accused him of printing a damaging poster where he juxtaposed his opponent’s picture with that of unpopular President Jonathan.

His notoriety in blackmailing and double crossing skyrocketed when the ‘APC cabals” dropped him as Gbajabiamila’s running mate for the post of Speakership. He quickly switched over to Dogara’s camp 4 minutes to the election. No wonder, Baba Tanko Yakassai called him “blackmailer in-chief”.

It is important to remind readers that prior to Jibrin’s removal as Chairman House committee on Appropriations, he was mute on all the allegations leveled against the Speaker. The retardant atavistic Jibrin wants Nigerians to believe that he is a saint and is being witch-hunted for refusing to compromise his job and allow corruption thrill.

To further explain the insensitivity of this recalcitrant, who has so far instituted a major collateral damage against his colleagues in the ongoing political misadventure, it is worthy to remind Nigerians how Jibrin illegally and clandestinely inserted projects worth billions of naira to his constituency, the President’s home town of Daura and the Kano film village which attracted rebuttal and criticisms on the person of the President.

His fraudulent behaviors have depleted the already traumatized integrity of the National Assembly, generated public smear and ridicule to its members. To establish legitimacy for his cynicism, Jibrin wants to convince the President that Dogara is an enemy who dines with PMB and wines with his enemies, and if not dealt with, would be a threat to the administration.

If Dogara was Buhari’s enemy, he wouldn’t have supported him during APC Primaries when he was pressured to support Atiku. As Jibrin continue to groan and grumble and as he putatively evaded series of crimes and malfeasances in the past, it is understandable and predictable that the sinking criminal wouldn’t want to die alone.

Who knows whether it is the nemesis of Okonjo Iweala that is at work!

Haruna Mohammed Salisu writes from Bauchi. He can be reach at 08063180608, @haruna_babale or harunababale@gmail.com

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