By Samuel Malik
The last may not have been heard of the alleged sacking of the former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, as the Kano State representative has mounted a fierce battle against the leadership of the House.
Jibrin was a key player in the embarrassment that trailed the 2016 budget, with allegations that he added N4billion projects into the budget for his Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State.
Announcing his removal on Wednesday, the Speaker had said Jibrin had indicated his willingness to resign due to pressure but that the decision had already been taken to replace him.
However, it is clear the Kano-born politician is not taking his removal lightly. In a series of tweets, he accused the Speaker, his deputy, Yusuf Lasun, Chief Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, of ganging up against him because he refused to accede to their demands, including inserting N30 billion interests and his opposition to immunity for lawmakers.
“My inability to admit into the budget almost N30bn personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the 3 other principal officers also became an issue,” he tweeted.
Jibrin called for the leadership to resign, warning that should it fail to do so, he would seek legal means, including testifying against the four.
He accused the Speaker of ignoring his revelations that new projects were included into the budget by committee members but that nothing was done. In fact, he claimed the principal officers did everything to prevent him from bringing this to the knowledge of other House members.
“My offence was asserting my independence and insisting that we do the right thing at all times and expose corrupt people in the House.
“I gave Mr. Speaker statistics of 2000 new projects introduced into the budget by less than 10 committee chairmen yet he is talking about improving the budget system without the knowledge of their committee members he did nothing about it because he was part of the mess that I believe must be addressed if we intend to build a better budget system for the House.
“Since after that meeting, Mr Speaker with the support of the three other principal officers effectively blocked me from briefing members ensured I was not at the last executive session and refused to investigate issues I raised,” he said.
He challenged the speaker to tell the world the reason why he was removed, “Seeing as the Speaker claimed that they have taken the decision or were going to take a decision to replace me.”
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari should be careful with the speaker, who he called “coward, hypocrite and pretender of the highest order (who) wines with Mr. President and dines with Mr. President’s enemies.” According to him, Dogara wants to be seen by the President as the only good person.
“He forgot that he sees heads of MDA’s daily which he enjoys doing more than his job as Speaker for reasons best known to him anyway without Mr. President’s knowledge because he wanted to be seen by the president as the only good man and went on to scuttle all our efforts to help the president during the budget process,” he stated.
The House of Representatives has vehemently denied the allegations and wondered why Jibrin waited for his removal before revealing he has evidence of misdeeds against the principal officers.
In a statement signed by House Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, Abdulrazak Namdas, the House said the “it is the prerogative of the Selection Committee of the House to appoint and remove Committee Chairmen,” adding that his claims that he was removed because of his opposition to immunity for lawmakers and the allegations against him over the 2016 budget process were non-issues.
“Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, like any other member of the House knows that there are conventions and precedents as it relates to budgets and projects for principal officers of the National Assembly. Why is he making it an issue now? In any case, he is entitled to his opinion as a Nigerian and as a legislator while acting within the laws of Nigeria and rules of the House.
“We must make it abundantly clear that he was not removed because of his support or otherwise on immunity bill. After all he is not the only one who opposed the bill. The bill is still pending before committee on review of constitution and it has to be voted upon by each and every member of the House, get Senate concurrence, endorsed by two-third of the 36 State Houses of Assembly and be assented to by the President,” the statement read.