Men's Roundtable 'You be thief... I no be rogue'

The imbroglio in the House of Representatives involving the Speaker and the sacked Chairman of the Appropriations Committee is taking an alarming and dangerous dimension.

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The Men's Roundtable play

The Men's Roundtable

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Nigeria is one country where comedy is the order of the day. In fact, in the midst of whatever crisis, be it politically or economically, some set of politicos will come up with one form of distraction or the other, to lull our senses and make us forget the burning issue threatening to bring down the nation.

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If it is not Senators abusing themselves and threatening to impregnate one another, it will be governors embarking on a vocational training abroad. What? Yes, our governors will soon be on their way to Germany to train themselves on how to fix roads, repair cars, change tyres, make hair, plant cassava and cook delicious meals. Abi, is that not what vocational training is all about?

The new wave of comedy engulfing the National Assembly erupted last week when the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, a fine gentleman that he is, decided to shove aside his one-time right hand man, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, on charges of padding the budget. That word again!

Yes, the same padding that saw the NASS members inflating the budget by outrageous proportions. So Dogara actually forced Jibrin to step aside and for those who know, the Appropriations Committee is about the juiciest and most delicious committee in the House. (Apologies to my boss, Jimi Disu).

But Jibrin, just like a goat pushed to the wall, vowed that he would not go away nicely and quietly, because the honey has been taken from his mouth.

He came out with his own bomb; He came out with all guns blazing, accusing Dogara himself, and three other key officers in the House, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Lasun, House Whip, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, and House Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, of conniving to 'corner' and share between themselves, a whopping N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated to the entire National Assembly in the 2016 budget.

And from our records, there are about 360 members in the House and four people had earmarked N40 billion to play with. Lord have mercy!

Jibrin also accused the Speaker of plans to use some elements within the police to monitor, harass, kidnap, intimidate and hound him over the recent revelations regarding the 2016 budget padding fiasco.

He added that his removal was over his refusal to accede to the another N30 billion to be added for the constituency projects at the behest of Dogara and his boys, which set him on a war path with the Speaker, culminating in his being forced to step down.

Jibrin claims to have enough evidence and is ready and willing to release them to the public at the right time. We are waiting though.

But the questions that have been begging for answers remain and they are: would Jibrin have come out with his damning accusation if he had remained the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the House?

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Was he not aware of the padding by his boss in the first place? Is he just fighting back because he was removed from his presumed meal ticket? Did he run foul of Dogara and his clique and was shoved aside? What would have happened if he was not sacked? Does that mean he would have kept quiet and played along? And most importantly, why now?

This accusation and counter accusation lends credence to the late Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's music; 'You be tief, I no be tief. You be rogue, I no be rogue', where two crooks are busy trading accusations.

It also goes to confirm what former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, said in 2012, that members of the National Assembly are all rogues and armed robbers, coming to play, though one has to say that he helped create the monsters by doling out huge monies to them during his ill-fated third-term bid.

But while we await for the issue to be either overtaken by events that are sure to crop up and conveniently forgotten, or swept under the carpet like it is wont to happen, we have to wonder if these legislators actually have the interest of Nigerians who voted them into power, at heart.

Do they even have the time to, like Dogara pointed out, 'give legislative support on important issues facing the government concerning the revival of the economy, insecurity in the country, pursuit of anti-corruption measures, poverty alleviation, infrastructure development?'

Do they care about the ordinary Nigerian suffering in the midst of plenty? Do they think about the economic hardship in the country, the horde of unemployed youths, our young men taking to crime, our ladies selling themselves for money just so they can survive?

Do they bother about the decaying infrastructure in the country, the falling Naira, the agitations in different parts of the country, the insecurity in the land, the killings of innocent Nigerians, the death traps on our roads, the hospitals without drugs, the failing educational system?

Do they care? I doubt and stand to be corrected.

Do you think members of the National Assembly have the interest of Nigerians at heart?»

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