By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA— MEMBERS of the House of Representatives loyal to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, are divided over moves to reconvene the House over alleged 2016 budget padding.
The loyalists, Vanguard reliably gathered, held meetings at the National Assembly and the thrust of their meetings was how to reconvene the House and settle the issues between the speaker and the embattled former House of Representatives Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmunin Jibrin.
According to the source, the division stemmed from the fact that if the House is reconvened, Jibrin will be dignified though he may not even attend the session.
While others had argued that it would be better to reconvene and internally reconcile all their differences, some lawmakers, however, declared that most of their colleagues were out of town.
Some equally argued that some aggressive lawmakers might go physical on the issue and that to avoid such a development, the idea of reconvening should be dropped.
Also, some of the lawmakers, who felt sidelined in the sharing of committees, are equally ready to vent their anger if the House reconvenes.
Gbajabiamila keeps mum over confidence vote on Dogara
This is as efforts by Vanguard to reach the Leader of the House on his position over the alleged on-going collection of signatures to pass a vote confidence on Dogara was unsuccessful as several calls made to his GSM line did not go through.
But when his Research and Media Aide, Mr Olanrewaju Smart, was contacted, he confirmed to Vanguard that his principal was abroad on vacation.
Also, following speculations that committee chairmen and other members of the House of Representatives met on Tuesday to collect signatures to support a vote of confidence on the House speaker, Yakubu Dogara, the former chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, Jibrin, had alleged that the members were embarking on the exercise because they collected $25,000 each from the speaker.
Jibrin made the bribery allegation on his twitter handle, yesterday, in reaction to media reports suggesting that signatures were being collected from lawmakers to pass a vote of confidence that would shield the speaker from any possible impeachment move when the House reconvenes.
He said: “Fellow Nigerians, in a desperate attempt, Speaker Dogara and the three others have opened a register for a vote of confidence signature. The register is opened at his Asokoro guest house, located at Wilberforce Juta Crescent. Hon members are given $25,000 to sign.
“This disgraceful act is coordinated by Hon. Zakari Mohammed, Hon Jagaba Adams Jagaba and DCOS (Deputy Chief of Staff) to Mr Speaker, Hon CID Maduabum. It is a shame that Mr Speaker has not responded to any of the allegations raised against him but has resorted to look for fraudulent cover.”
Jibrin said his priority is that Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor listened to Nigerians, reconvene the House immediately and step aside.
Zakari denies $25,000 bribery allegation
Meanwhile, Zakari Mohammed who Jibrin accused of being the ‘coordinator’ of the dollar sharing scheme, has reacted to the allegation, describing it as “another tales by moonlight.”
He said: “My attention has been drawn to yet another satanic tweet by the former chairman, Appropriation Committee, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin, saying that I and others were distributing $25,000 to each member of the House, to generate signatures for speaker Dogara’s vote of confidence.
“I want to state that the accusation is not only untrue but another tales by moonlight to hoodwink Nigerians to malign my image.
“There is no basis for bribe-for-vote of confidence as alleged by Jibrin. Why can’t Jibrin allow the law to take its course on the allegations before the police and anti-graft agencies?”
Senate is involved in padding —Rep
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Muhammadu Bala Farouk, yesterday, said the Senate was also involved in the alleged padding of 2016 budget.
Speaking in an interview in Abuja, Farouk, who represents Kacha/Gbako/Bida federal constituency of Niger State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said budget padding of about N100 billion had been on since the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.