Jibrin, Budget Padding Agony of a suspended whistle-blower

Jibrin has been suspended from the House and his office sealed, but he says he won't apologise

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Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin play

Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin

(Facebook)
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Abdulmumin Jibrin who was until July, 2016, Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, cuts a forlorn figure these days. He's had a rough year even by his own brash, garrulous standards.

Social media site, Twitter, frequently offers some solace for the young lawmaker, but close aides and friends said

 behind his gadgets, Jibrin is suffering.

"It's tough for him, I can tell you", said one media aide of the Kano born legislator.

Jibrin was suspended from parliamentary duties for 180 legislative days and barred from future official positions in the House. It's the equivalent of taking out a man's balls and hanging him out on a stake to dry.

Following his suspension, Jibrin's office was sealed by officials in the National Assembly and the keys thrown away. He would not be allowed access.

National Assembly officials sealing Jibrin’s office. play Jibrin's office is sealed (Punch)

 

The walls are closing in on Jibrin; the ground underfoot, giving way.

However, in typical Jibrin fashion, he's fighting back.

"Predictably, Speaker Dogara ensured I was suspended. I wish to state that the suspension is unfounded as the entire process is flawed", said Jibrin. 

"The so called suspension is ridiculous, a non issue, bunch of nonsense and completely inconsequential...that cannot stand anywhere in the world", he railed.

It all began some time this year within the bowels of the National Assembly. The Executive alleged that the 2016 appropriation document, presented to a joint session of parliament by President Muhammadu Buhari, had been padded by the lawmakers.

In Nigeria parlance, "padding" has come to mean "criminal insertions" (as Jibrin prefers to call it) by lawmakers into the budget for their own pecuniary gains.

Interestingly, as boss of the legislative committee in charge of fine-tuning the budget, Jibrin was one of the lawmakers who called out the Executive branch, stopping short of calling Buhari and his ministers corrupt.

House of Reps Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and Abdulmumin Jibrin play Dogara and Jibrin (Vanguard)

 

Those were the days when lawmakers woke up to find two versions of the same budget document in their chambers. The Executive insisted it could only swear by one document. Jibrin and the lawmakers passed the buck and Buhari fired a handful of civil servants for mangling his first budget as democratic President.

Weeks after, in a dramatic twist of events, Jibrin tendered his resignation as Chairman of the House Appropriation Commitee. Speaker Yakubu Dogara handed the media a different version of events--Jibrin had met him to say he couldn't continue in the role, said the Speaker, so he backed his decision and sacked him.

In a series of back and forth, Jibrin and Dogara held different views on his ouster and then the Pandora box from Camp Jibrin was ripped open.

Jibrin embraced a three-pronged media approach in his allegations against Dogara: Twitter, Television and Newspaper. You'd think he was going to run out of tweets and then he'd return the next day with a new set of numbered tweets. He had become the King of the numbered tweets--its Crown Prince.

Abdulmumin Jibrin play

Abdulmumin Jibrin.

(Information NG)

 

Dogara has been called a "corrupt thief" by Jibrin and much more. No negative appellation has been considered off limits by Jibrin when the subject is Dogara.

Following his suspension from the House this week, Jibrin was asked to apologise, by the committee that recommended he be barred from getting anywhere near the National Assembly.

No way he's going to apologise, vowed Jibrin.

"Let me state very clearly that I will never ever apologise to anybody in the House of Reps. There is no reason whatsoever to apologise! I did not commit any offence. I did not abuse my office. For the five years I have served, I have never corruptly enriched myself", said Jibrin.

"In contrast, these are the allegations that I raised against Mr Speaker and others which they have not responded till date. The bad news for  the Speaker and his cabal is, despite doing their worst and exhausting their bullets by "suspending" me, it has not in any way...Despite the "suspension" the fact has not changed that the Speaker conspired with others to commit monumental budget fraud and corruption.

"I stand by all the allegations I raised. I wish to state categorically that there is chronic individual and systemic corruption in the House".

Reps urge FG to halt planned 100% electricity tariff increase play House of Reps (premiumtimesng)

 

He may well have a case, but he's getting to stand alone by the day.

Said one lawmaker who wouldn't want his name used in this story: "He had over 200 lawmakers on his side before the House reconvened from its recess. That number has been completely wiped out by the Speaker who has been doling out money to the lawmakers to get them on his own side. Jibrin is taking on the might of a very powerful Speaker. He was always going to emerge wounded".

It may not all be bad news for Jibrin. Presidency sources told Pulse he's secured a meeting date with President Buhari. Attempts to secure the meeting while the budget padding allegations were still fresh, was frustrated by powerful individuals within the presidency.

"Buhari has agreed to meet with him and discuss all the budget padding wahala", said the source.

A silver lining at long last?

For Jibrin, the road to redemption and political relevance may well be a long, tortuous one. The medium term plan is to finish him off politically, insiders say. 

Ain't no love for the whistle-blower in Nigeria.

Is Jibrin's suspension fair?»

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