- The stalmate in the 2016 budget has caused serious commotion in the House of Representatives
- Lawmakers at a rowdy plenary demanded the resignation of the chairman of the house committee on appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin
- The lamwakers condemned the concession of projects of over N3billion to Speaker Yakubu Dogara out of the N20billion for the House leadership
There is fresh row in the House of Representatives as members lambast the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and demanded the resignation of the chairman of the house committee on appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
READ ALSO: First of its kind? Saraki visits Dogara in his office
The Nation reports that members are furious that Jibrin influenced the allocation of projects worth N4.169billion to his constituency outside what was budgeted by the executive in the 2016 appropriation bill.
The members also frowned and opposed allocation of N40billion (at N20b apiece) to those in the leadership of both the Senate and the lower chamber.
They specifically faulted the concession of projects of over N3billion to the Dogara out of the N20billion for the House leadership.
It was gathered that the lawmaker while shouting on top their voice demanded that the house should shun old practice of personalising budget. When the speaker observed that the plenary is almost turning into a protest, he quickly called for an executive session between him and his principal officers.
It was further gathered that the executive session commenced around 11.30am on a gloomy mood as the speaker sued for peace from aggrieved members.
“After initial courtesies, the Speaker hit the point by claiming that everything being said about the budget remains hearsay because the Executive has not returned the Appropriation Bill. He quickly added a caveat by urging members to avoid anything which could affect the unity of the House,” a source at the session said.
Speaking in synchronization with the speaker’s plea, Monguno (Borno) pleaded with the lawmakers to “wait for reactions until the budget is returned.”
A source hinted that the speaker’s plea was not accepted by the lawmakers who raised issues on the controversy surrounding the budget.
It was gathered that the lawmakers that spoke at the session comprised Nnana (Imo); Aliyu Sani Madaki (Kano); Prof. Mojeed Alabi (Osun); Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and comrade Phillip Shuaibu (Edo).
“Most members were not persuaded by attempts by Jibrin to incite them against the Executive. They rose up and started shouting at Jibrin for not doing a diligent job. Some asked him whether it was the Executive that asked him to allocate huge projects to his constituency when there was no provision for these in the proposals of the Executive. Many were yelling and demanding Jibrin’s immediate resignation for the ineffective manner the Appropriation Committee handled the budget. Even when the Speaker called for calm, they shouted that they “cannot defend the indefensible in the press because Nigerians are angry against the National Assembly for playing politics with the budget,” a top ranking lawmaker said.
Another lawmaker from the South-West said: “At the Executive session, members asked the leadership about the N40billion projects allocated to the principal officers of the Senate and the House. Each of the leadership of the two chambers will share N20billion projects. Members queried why N3billion projects have been allocated to the Speaker and why Jibrin favoured his constituency with N4.169billion projects. The leadership said the N20b projects were captured under zonal intervention as it had been since 1999 but members said if others were doing it in the past, it should not be now.”
READ ALSO: Photos: PMB, VP scrutinizing the controversial 2016 budget
Some of the projects allocated to Jibrin’s Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency include N100million for town hall, N150milion for construction of roads in Kiru/Bebeji, N300million for solar street lights, Badaf road construction—N405million, pedestrian bridges —N200million, Bebeji earth dam—N270million, empowerment items—N100million, entrepreneurship development training and vocational centre —N100million, rehabilitation of Gwarzo Kiru, Kwanar Maiyaki–N180million, rehabilitation of Sharada-Kwanar Dogara—N1.445billion, construction of solar powered boreholes–N150million, supply of tricycles, grinding machines and set of women salon empowerment kits—N200million as well as small irrigation scheme in Kiru at the cost of N100million.
It was further gathered that Speaker Dogara, however, managed to calm down the tension after pleading seriously with the members.
The 2016 budget has raised several controversies, starting from its initial padding and later rejection of by President Muhammadu Buhari on ground that details were not included in the copy sent to him for approval.
Recall that the president and vice president, Yemi Osinbajo reportedly held a meeting with Senate president, Bukola Saraki and the speaker of the House of Representatives, following the drastic reduction of budgetary allocation to capital projects in the 2016 budget estimates.