Budget Padding: 206 Members Of House Of Reps Demand Speaker Dogara’s Resignation

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Two hundred and six members
of Nigeria’s House of
Representatives have again
urged Speaker Yakubu Dogara
to step down in order to ensure
a proper investigation into the budget padding controversy
that has enveloped the
legislative body. Mr. Dogara and
former chairman of the House
appropriations committee,
Abdulmumin Jibrin, have for two weeks engaged in verbal
exchanges, blaming each other
for the padding of the 2016
budget.
In a statement released today,
the lawmakers, who described themselves as members of the
Transparency Group, expressed
deep shock that Speaker Dogara
has been trying to exonerate
himself from responsibility for
the scandalous padding of the 2016 budget. The statement
disclosed that the group was
appalled that Mr. Dogara had
“the temerity to come out
publicly in defense of an action
that is [a] clear negation of federal character principles and
breach of trust,” adding that the
speaker’s action was “both
disappointing and
dishonorable.”
Bashir Baballe, from Kano State, Agunsoye Oluwarotimi Ojo, a
member of the House from
Lagos State, and Abubakar Chika
Adamu, from Niger State, signed
the statement on behalf of the
Transparency Group. With 206 House members, the
Transparency Group now
constitutes a huge opposition to
the Speaker of a legislative body
that has 360 members.
“The Speaker's comments also endanger the spirit of the
oneness of Nigeria,” said the
group’s statement, adding that
they wished to “stress the
criminal aspect of the Speaker's
action, which is against the letters and spirit of the
constitution he swore to protect.
The general public should note
that Speaker Yakubu Dogara
made criminal insertions
(otherwise known as ‘budget padding’) to the tune of over N3
billion to his constituency alone.”
According to the group, “While
the entire Zonal Intervention for
the three (3) Senatorial Districts
of Bauchi State and 12 Federal Constituencies in the state
amounts to N1, 666,666,666,
the Speaker criminally inserted
about 200 percent of the
amount, totaling N3,
079,000,000, to his constituency alone!”
The group also accused Mr.
Dogara of allocating N4.8 billion
out of N9.3 billion in capital
projects for Bauchi to his
constituency, noting that the sum represented 50 percent of
the capital budget for the state.
The Transparency Group wrote:
“If the above breach of trust and
infringement of the Nigerian law
are not criminal acts, the ‘insertions’ of bogus projects
aimed at siphoning public funds,
like vague ‘Youth Empowerment’
to the tune of N450 million, and
‘Strategic Youth Empowerment,’
to the tune of N500 million, should be.”
The lawmakers challenged Mr.
Dogara to “explain to the
general public the difference
between ‘Youth Empowerment’
and ‘Strategic Youth Empowerment’ if it is not a fraud.
Every discerning mind knows
that this is a riddle to hoodwink
the general public against
scrutinizing what is clearly a
fraud.” The group insisted that any
attempt to ignore the speaker’s
alleged criminal activities would
amount to “legalizing
corruption.” They urged fellow
members of the House “to toe the path of honor, integrity and
yearnings of our constituents to
avoid signing [a] ‘Vote of
Confidence’ on the leadership of
the House.”
The group demanded that Speaker Dogara come clean
concerning the allegations,
adding that the group would
soon “start exposing the sleaze
and corruption surrounding the
internal budget of the House.”