Members of the National Assembly (NASS) will today resume plenary and continue their legislative duties after a long annual recess. Expectations are high but Nigerians may yet again be in for a melodrama.
Already, there are strong speculations that the opening day in the House may be rancorous with members on either side of the divide calling for a vote of no confidence on Speaker Yakubu Dogora or immediate suspension of former Appropriation Committee Chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin. Both gladiators had been at daggers drawn over accusations to defraud the nation via budget padding.
At the upper house, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is reportedly set to return to the Supreme Court for a last ditch attempt to secure his continued stay at the Senate. He is being hounded for allegedly giving false information on his Asset Declaration form.
While voices may not be raised too high in the Senate, same cannot be said of the House of Representatives, where fireworks are expected to dominate. Though the economic recession in the country is expected to engage the lawmakers as they have variously promised individually, the budget padding scandal that broke and raged towards the end of the last legislative year, and substantially during their recess, will no doubt ignite the fireworks in the lower legislative chamber.
It would be recalled that the former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, had alleged that the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, in concert with his deputy, Yusuf Lasun, Chief Whip, Ado-Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N40 billion.
Jibrin also laid some other allegations bordering on financial recklessness, image peddling, amongst others against Dogara.
Though Jibrin had written petitions to the police, Department of State Services, DSS, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC and the Presidential Committee of Corruption led by Professor Itse Sagay, he is also pushing for the sack of the speaker.
On the other hand, there are moves to suspend the Kano State born lawmakers by the leadership of the House and those loyal to Dogara. As at last count, the camp of the Speaker and those sympathetic to Jibrin, are said to be putting final touches to their strategies on how to get the back at the other.
If the history of the House is anything to go by, the nation may just once again witness another show of shame in the green chambers, as the two camps appear relentless in their bid to have their way.
Determined to have Dogara sacked as speaker, Jibrin made a last minute rallying for support at the weekend, when he wrote a 17 page letter to all the 360 members of the House.
Jibrin said in the letter: “Just imagine with all these fraud they perpetrated if they had immunity? At that point, I had made up mind to leave. The whole environment was filthy. The smell of corruption was all over Speaker Dogara. It is a fact that he and his gang of few other members like Herman Hembe were very corrupt – front, back, left, right and centre. He isolated himself with a very few small-minded rogues in the house.
“Anything short of asking the Speaker and others to resign, the House will become a laughing stock in the eyes of the public.
“Upon resumption, the house would have a golden opportunity to deal with this issue of incontrovertible corruption by Speaker Dogara and others.
“The institution of the House shall stand beyond any individual! How we handle this matter is a litmus test for the House of Representatives.
“If we cannot deal decisively with allegations of corruption within the house and ensure that justice is served irrespective of who is involved, we would have lost the moral ground to deal with corruption outside the house which constitutes an important part of our responsibility.”
However, the Chief Whip of the House, Ado-Doguwa, was quick in replying Jibrin, insisting that the lawmaker should be ignored.
According to him, Jibrin is fighting a lost battle because the House leadership has been able to rally over 300 members behind it.
Doguwa said: “It is now high time Nigerians and indeed our press disregarded and ignored any statement or communication coming from Jibrin, the sacked Appropriation Committee Chairman.
“He has already lost moral conscience. He has now realised that he is fighting a lost battle with no single reasonable member behind him. We as a leadership have succeeded in consolidating our support base in the House, with over 300 respected members willingly signing the vote of confidence roll.
“When we resume on Tuesday, the House will not even waste its valuable time discussing Jibrin’s issue. We would rather continue with more important legislative issues that would impact positively on our economy and the people we represent.
“I, therefore, on behalf of the leadership of the House wish to call on all our well-meaning members to disregard the so called letters sent to them by Abdulmumin Jibrin, whom we have all condemned and believed has lost his common sense. He is just a psychiatric case that everyone must condemn. Members must remain focused and never allow themselves to get distracted by the nuisance Jibrin.”
As it stands, the battle, previously fought in media, will, in a matter of hours, shift to the green chamber of the National Assembly, where former allies take on each other in a battle that appears to be more of survival than the interest of the nation!
It is, once again, time for anything but robust debate. Nigerians should expect mega distraction.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews….
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