OrderPaperToday – For the first time, the body of principal officers in the House of Representatives has reacted to the budget padding allegations raised by ex-chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumuni Jibrin, dismissing it as “wild, baseless and unfounded.”
In a statement signed by all ten members of the body and released on Thursday, the principal officers said the removal of Jibrin as chairman of the Appropriation Committee was a collective decision and that rather than join issues with him in the media, they chose to deal the allegations upon resumption from recess.
Signatories to the statement are Speaker Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Suleiman Lasun; Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; and Chief Whip, Alhassan Doguwa. Others are Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; Deputy Leader, Umar Buba Jubril; Yakubu Barde, Minority Whip; Chukwuka Wilfred, Deputy Minority Leader; Pally Iriase, Deputy Chief Whip; and Binta Bello, Deputy Minority Whip.
The statement reads: “In recent weeks, the nation’s public space has been inundated with a treatise of discuss centered around the concept “BUDGET PADDING” newly introduced into the lexicon of the Nigerian legislative Appropriation process.
“The proponent, the recently sacked Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin sought to make allegations of impropriety against the leadership of the House over the process and content of the 2016 budget passed by the National Assembly and signed into law.
“While the leadership is determined to ensure that absolute diligence, maturity and due process are employed in dealing with the allegations, instead of joining the accuser in a press war, it is important to state, in the interest of the agitated public, that the allegations are wild, baseless and unfounded. Good enough, all the said allegations raise issues that can be easily verified and the public will be availed ample opportunity upon the resumption of the House.
“In the meantime however, the Leadership of the House of Representatives wishes to reaffirm that it took collective action, in conjunction with the Senate and a team from the Executive, to rescue the 2016 Budget when it became obvious that the former appropriation Chairman had placed both the document and the process in jeopardy resulting in a spate of agitations from Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
“Furthermore, the decision to relieve the erstwhile Appropriation Chairman of his position was a collective decision of the leadership in response to unrelenting pressures from the overwhelming majority of Honorable Members who were irked by the former Chairman’s gross abuse of the budget process. Both actions were taken in the best interest of the institution and the nation for which we take full responsibility.
“Truth may be slow but it usually always wins the race in the end. We have no doubts.”