When news broke last Thursday that Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin had resigned his position as Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, a lot of people, including me, were surprised at the sudden turn of events. The first sign of foul play was how even though Speaker Yakubu Dogara himself expressly stated that Jibrin voluntarily resigned from the position, somehow almost all the major news outlets reported that he was sacked.
Since then Jibrin has assumed the title of House Anti-Corruption Poster Boy by opening the lid on how Dogara and three other principal officers of the House tried to pad the 2016 budget with billions of Naira for personal gains. Statements from Jibrin reveal how Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor decided to allocate themselves N40 billion out of the N100 billion meant for National Assembly members for constituency projects. Jibrin also alleged that the four men asked him to admit into the 2016 budget personal requests of almost N30 billion. This according to him, is added to N20 billion worth of wasteful projects the four-man cabal already allocated to their constituencies in the budget.
Jibrin also revealed details of how less than 10 committee chairmen inserted into the 2016 budget, line items of over N240 billion. This was brought to Dogara’s knowledge but he was a part of the scam as well. As we speak the Dogara camp has been unable to respond directly to the weighty allegations, opting instead to mud-sling and engage in personal attacks. Their attempt to kill the message by killing the messenger has made a lot of Nigerians even more curious however. Jibrin has also not helped their cause by turning himself into a Nigerian Wikileaks, backing his allegations up with letters and memos from the budget screening process.
Why did Jibrin wait till his fall-out with Dogara, whom he worked tirelessly to make Speaker, before coming forward with these revelations? Many are of the opinion that he is the archetypal Nigerian politician who lost out in a power game. It is a point the Dogara camp has raised as well to taint the allegations. Nonetheless, Nigerians deserve to know the truth, the whole truth, irrespective of what motivated or is motivating Jibrin’s anti-corruption campaign.
Make no mistake; I know Jibrin is not a saint. He admitted as much that he let himself down during the screening of the 2016 budget. But his past misdemeanours do not in any way invalidate the allegations against Dogara and the others involved in this budget scandal. We cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. Jibrin’s allegations deserve to the investigated fully by the EFCC and anyone found culpable in the attempt to defraud Nigerians should be tried.
Actually a cursory look at the 2016 budget document already confirms some of Jibrin’s allegations. A total of N100 billion was earmarked for Zonal Intervention Projects across the 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal Constituencies. If this fund had been shared equally among all the 469 lawmakers, each would have gotten about N213 million to execute one project or the other in their constituency. However, the budget shows the Deputy Speaker alone got N2.77 billion, while Speaker Dogara got N3.08 billion. These two men alone got almost N6 billion out of the N100 billion meant for the entire National Assembly.
A special report by PREMIUM TIMES (http://www.premiumtimesng.com/investigationspecial-reports/195920-special-report-inside-the-massive-money-laundering-in-nigerias-national-assembly.html#.V5aF7Y_n05k.twitter) published in December 2015 named this same Dogara as one of the beneficiaries of a N41 billion money laundering scheme which occurred in the National Assembly between 2009 and 2015. So why
Clearly there is more to Jibrin’s allegations than meets the eye. But he has found for himself an opportunity for redemption by coming forward at this time and telling Nigerians the truth. It will be counter-productive to not give him full support at this time as he acts as the official whistle-blower in the House. Failure to give Jibrin the necessary backing needed to unleash even more revelations from the House at this time has serious implications for the future as anyone who finds themselves in his shoes will be forced into silence.
Jibrin has promised to not stop talking about the extent of the financial recklessness being perpetuated by Dogara and his cabal. Certainly the Dogara camp will either continue to mud-sling, defend themselves against these allegations or raise fresh allegations of their own against Jibrin. Whatever the case, we need him to keep shining the light on the dark places in the House.