Speaker Yakubu Dogara: An Exit in Sight?

A comment by Adedayo Osho

In the coming years, the current rift in Nigeria’s lower national legislative chamber, the House of Representatives, between Speaker Yakubu Dogara and erstwhile Chairman Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, over “Budget padding”, will create a prime opportunity for Nigerians to demand transparency and accountability at all levels of government.

As¬†Abdulmumin Jibrin presses harder on seeing principal officers allegedly involved in corrutption resign their respective seats, he appeared yesterday, August 2, at the secretariat of All Progressives Congress after being summoned by his party’s National Working Committee (NWC) members for clarification of his position on the current crisis.

In the latest statement, the former Appropriation Committee Chairman emphasized: “I am confident that the party will do the right thing by throwing its weight to support our resolve to wipe out corruption in the House and direct Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority Leader Ogor to reconvene the House immediately, and step down to face imminent prosecution and save the party and our dear country from further embarrassment.”

This crime of budget padding by a Nigerian legislative body; frighteningly steep increases in annual spending, with those added figures going into the private pockets of principal officers is not committed by the Green Chamber (House of Representatives) alone, but the upper chamber, the Senate, and State Assemblies are also notorious in the act. Consistent demand for financial reports, tracking of constituency projects claimed to be carried out by legislators, by both civil society organizations (CSO) and well meaning citizens is key to eliminate the corruption of budget padding.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Monday, petitioned the police,  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and other anti-graft agencies, urging them to investigate the matter. Reports on Wednesday morning indicate a five-man panel was instituted by the police and headed by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Amodu Ali. The panel sent invitations to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Yusuff Lasun; Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, ordering them all to appear before the panel on Friday, August 5, 2016.

Even if Speaker Dogara and the rest of his principal officers resign, the House will continue to experience a divided stance on issues of national importance. With a symbolic 250 out of 360 members reportedly signing a petition to remove the Speaker for failure to fulfill promises, like ranging on appointments to juicy committees, it’s newly recruited supporters will find themselves in a power struggle which will inadvertently lead to fiascos while trying to pass executive bills.

Joined by his loyalists, it was revealed just after 12 PM on Wednesday that Speaker Dogara has began to bribe legislators; the House member representing Kiru-Bebeji Federal Constituency, Abdulmumin Jibrin, stated: “Fellow Nigerians: In a desperate attempt, corrupt Speaker Dogara and three others have opened a register for a vote of confidence signature. The register has opened at his Asokoro guest house, located at Wilbeford Juta Crescent, Abuja. Honorable members are given $25,000 each to sign.”

There is an increasing desperation in every attempt to retain his position, as it is attempted to oust the present crop of corrupt leaders in the Nigerian House of Representatives, and it comes with both merits and defects.

The eventual oust of the crucified-corrupt, since they are unwilling to voluntarily exit their seats with honor, will stand as a victory for democracy, and will send a loud message to the international community that democratic development is gradual in Africa’s most populous nation.

A very real risk is emerging from many more splinter factions within APC, the governing party; factions are already over-stretching their reach, and deepening religious and ethnic tensions in the polity. The absence of a very-much-needed strong co-operation between the executive and resistant forces is positioned to slog power out of the legislature.

Adedayo Osho

Adedayo Osho is a Political Scientist and Journalist. Twitter: @Jahpolitical