By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations yesterday claimed that the former Chairman of the committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin shut them out completely during the budget process only to surface after two weeks with a completed work.
The members alleged that even when the former embattled chairman called for a meeting when the House was on recess, he abandoned them and disappeared to unknown destination only to resurface when he had finished tinkering with the budget.
They also claimed Jibrin deliberately submitted the passed budget to President Muhammadu Buhari without the necessary details because of his alleged hidden and personal agenda unknown to them as at that time.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Deputy Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Chris Azibuogu in company of other members of the committee claimed that it was their protest that led to the removal of Jibrin.
The committee members expressed dismay over the allegations made by Jibrin, saying that they disassociated themselves with all the calculated plot to pull down the integrity of the Leadership and Members of the 8th House of Representatives.
They said, “As Members of the Committee on Appropriation, we want to state categorically that the ousted Chairman’s action does not in any way reflect the position of the Committee. He has constantly allotted all the actions and decisions of the Committee to himself without conferring with the Members.
“We wish to state that we totally disassociate ourselves with all the calculated plot to pull down the integrity of the Leadership and Members of the 8th House of Representatives.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state that a comprehensive collation of the reports of the budget from the various standing Committees of the House was done by the Appropriation Committee which was in the process of deliberation when the ousted Chairman unilaterally hijacked the entire budget to a hideout with his consultant without the consent of the Committee.
“That was the last time the Committee saw the budget only for Hon Jibrin Abdulmumin to resurface about three weeks later, with a report purported to have come from the Committee.”
They also claimed that it was the alleged ‘unwarranted provocation’ from Jibrin that made members of the committee to complain to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, demanding for the removal of the chairman.
Despite their protest, they alleged, “In his calm and peaceful manner, Mr. Speaker sought to resolve the matter amicably in the overall interest of the House and the Nation.”
They further said that instead of Jibrin to show remorse for his alleged ‘usual recalcitrant manner’, he went confrontational, an action they said irked members to request for his urgent removal from office, adding, “This request was overwhelmingly supported by the entire House.”
The appropriations committee members said there was no offence known to law in Nigeria as budget padding otherwise, the entire work of appropriation in the past and in the future will amount to nothing.
The entire essence of treating a budget would have been unnecessary in the first instance if the National Assembly has no powers over it.
According to them, “Note that appropriation bill is like any other executive bill and it also undergoes the same process of law making for it to become a law otherwise, there will be no need for Mr. President to present an estimate to the National Assembly for consideration.
“We as Members of Appropriation Committee wish to state categorically that there was no breach in the appropriation process that will warrant any external interference.
“In conclusion, we wish to state that Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin is on his own and we as Members of the Committee on Appropriation saddled with the responsibility of treating the 2016 and subsequent National Budgets are solidly in support of Mr. Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara and other Principal Officers of the House of Representatives.
“We therefore request that Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin should tow the path of honour and conduct himself in a manner befitting an Honourable Member of the House of Representatives.”