SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, as a “spokesperson of depravity” following allegations of budget padding against him (Dogara) and the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Tinubu, while reacting to the reports that he was bent on planting his loyalists to head the two legislative chambers, had accused Saraki and Dogara of hijacking the budget process in that last four years, inserting their “pet projects” into the budget while removing important national projects and thus being a clog on the wheel of development in Nigeria.
“Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them,” a statement issued on Sunday by Tinubu’s media office read in part.
“Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.”
Saraki had responded to Tinubu’s comments earlier on Monday, expressing disappointment that one who was a senator, albeit for only 22 months and during a military regime, does not understand the workings of the legislative arm of government.
“Tinubu should be graceful enough to substantiate this allegation. We consider that allegation careless, irresponsible and callous. We, therefore, demand that he should withdraw it,” Saraki stated via his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Monday.
Dogara’s response on Tuesday, however, was more fierce as he made it clear to Tinubu that “anyone can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language.
“We advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity. Our reaction must therefore be seen as a provoked counter-punch,” read the statement authored by Dogara’s spokesperson, Hassan Turaki.
“We do not expect Asiwaju Tinubu to dwell on brazen mendacity, much less murder facts and decorum in his rabid bid to justify his patently clear fascist agenda of controlling all levers of power in Nigeria.
“Asiwaju Tinubu’s nocturnal agenda has no parallel in the history of any democracy and it is more loathsome when he throws caution to the winds and maligns government officials who are doing a yeoman’s job of stabilising the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, even in spite of political differences.
“Perhaps, Asiwaju is still bitter about the leadership contest for Speakership of the 8th Assembly, even though the actors have moved on culminating in Speaker Dogara magnanimously facilitating the appointment of his opponent in the race and Tinubu’s protege as House Majority leader.”
Dogara explained that “the chief cause of delay in enacting the budget is the persistent refusal or neglect of the Executive to present it in good time”, added to the consistent refusal of Ministers and heads of agencies “to appear before National Assembly Standing Committees to defend their budget proposals in line with the provision of the Law”.
In 2016, Abdulmumin Jibrin, a Kano lawmaker and former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, accused Dogara and some other principal officers of the House of padding the 2017 budget with personal projects worth hundreds of millions of naira.