Nigeria House of Representatives Budget Padding Scandal

A comment by Adedayo Osho

Last week, the ousted Chairman of Nigeria’s House of Representatives’ Appropriation Committee accused the Speaker of bribery; allegedly, he was asked to approve hundreds of millions of dollars to principal officers.

The 2016 Appropriation Act, themed “Budget of Change”, was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 6, 2016 at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. This took place in the presence of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, John Odigie-Oyegun; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Fast forward two months of disbursement, and the budget’s snail implementation revelation was made on Thursday by Abdulmumuni Jibrin, the ousted Chairman of the House Representatives’ Appropriation Committee. Speaker Dogara, Jibrin alleged, had approached him to approve 40 billion naira (USD 135 million) for principal officers of the lower legislative chamber out of the 100 billion naira designated as funds for constituency projects of members of the House.

The mode of Committee Chairmanship reshuffling witnessed on Wednesday, with the removal of Abdulmumuni Jibrin as Chairman on Appropriation and the concomitant replacement with House Chairman on Housing, Mustapha Bala Dawaki highlights political alliances as the driving force behind appointments. Celestial forces, metaphysical powers and spiritual invocation are also imperative to continue retaining power in the country, yet, political history attests that victims of political relegation are often-times perceived opponents of key decision makers of a given polity.

Allegations of attempted budget padding by Speaker Dogara would not have surface had Abdulmumuni Jibrin not beenĀ  striped of Appropriation Committee Chairmanship. As is often the case, when power is lost, or a debate is lost, slanderous concoctions becomes a weapon; why is this revelation coming this late? Must top political office holders hijack power as an instrument to enrich private purses? When will members of the lower chamber, like the House of Representatives and its sister, the Senate, maintain a phlegmatic condition and conduct the business of law making without personal and vested financial interest?

The upswing of corruption, even in a self-acclaimed ‘Change’ government is uninspiring, injurious to the system, and once again a reaffirmed claim by a contemporary political analyst: Corruption, it seems, is becoming an eternal disease which has had no successful cure in Nigeria.

With assurance by Jibrin that newspapers and articles will be reporting in the (un)likely investigation into the accusation, the Speaker, Dogara, his deputy Yussuff Lasun, the Minority Leader Leo Ogor, and the Chief Whip AlHassan Doguwa (all of them comprising principal officers), of the Nigerian 8th House of Representatives, are to clear the air in every sense of honesty.

It is pitiable that at a time monetarism is supposed to be adopted, self-serving politicians are busy globe-trotting, conspiring and brainstorming ways to loot the treasury.

Adedayo Osho

Adedayo Osho is a political scientist with research interest on Conflicts, Protests and Party Politics. He writes on personal capacity. Twitter: @Jahpolitical