Opinion

Political Observation: Building The Nation Through Budget Padding, Corruption and Impunity

Let’s put it straight: Budget Padding is Forgery

The recent revelation by the deposed Appropriation Committee Chairman in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, tells us that the federal lawmakers are not ready to repent in their financial recklessness, impunity, and uncontrollable corruption dubiously perpetrated by Nigeria’s National Assembly: The Senate and The House of Senate.

They’re nation builders!

2016-budget-padding-in-nigeria

The actors in the padding of Nigeria’s 2016 budget are the exact characters two famous and prophetic African writers: Chinua Achebe of Nigeria and Uganda’s Christopher Henry Muwanga Barlow portrayed in their works written years ago. I’m sure I won’t be wrong to say: both literary giants should be saluted for bringing the past to present through their works.

According to research, Henry Barlow was a Permanent Secretary when he wrote his poem, “Building The Nation” and it’s not surprising when he uses first-person narrative techniques.

 

While Chinua Achebe wrote A Man of the People (1966), Christopher Barlow is known for his satirical poem, Building the Nation. Their works are significant in the African political society. They both wrote as if they’ve seen the future of Africa, as if nothing would ever change in African governance.

 

Relevance of Achebe’s A Man of The people to Nigeria’s National Assembly

In his prose, Chinua Achebe, tells us that Chief Nanga, a powerful but corrupt Minister of Culture. As a minister, Nanga’s responsibility is to protect the traditions of his country since he’s known as the man of the people. Those he represents see him as their messier. Instead the man of the people, Chief Nanga, used his office to increase his personal wealth to the detriment of his country.

 

The speaker, Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and his accomplices represent Chief Nanga. It would be recalled that Dogara, and indeed, every member of the National Assembly are famous for one slogan since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed presidency: “We will support the President to fight corruption.”

 

In contrary to their promise, they manipulated the 2016 Nigeria’s Budget (it’s been their tradition since 1999) by dubiously inserting vague projects worth N248 billion into the budget manuscript.

 

Why is Nigeria’s House of Reps falling Apart?

What made the former House of Representatives Appropriations Committee chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin to expose his colleagues isn’t exactly known. Dogara said he sacked Jibrin for padding the budget.

While Nigerians have been guessing it could be as result of disagreement over who have the final say on the padding of the nation’s budget, Jibrin declared that he’s speaking out because he’s ready to expose what he called “institutional corruption” at the National Assembly.

Jibrin-budget-padding

That to me is hard to believe, and this why?

Hear Jibrin: “Every year, there have always been insertions, which is made up constituency projects. They do often cause friction and tension between both arms of government. The only difference is that in 2016, it went completely off the board. I stand by my word that there were lots of insertions.”

It means Nigeria’s Budget manipulations have been on since 1999 through none existent projects. Sadly, none of them have major projects in their constituency. In a situation where they’re forced to have one, such is ephemeral.

 

“I discussed with the speaker that the insertions were too many. Though we (the legislature) have the power to insert but it was senseless in view of the enormity of the insertions. I fought internally to ensure that the situation was checked. The insertions were passed.

“We did a statistics after collecting reports from the various committees. I discovered that in between the committees in the House, about 2000 projects were posted by the committees totaling about N224 billion and I was a bit worried about it.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor have been accused as the major actors in the budget manipulation saga.

 

But why do Nigerian lawmakers always say Nigeria is facing financial crisis why they refused to cut down their pay and bogus allowances?

The reason is obviously clear: they’re doing things of national importance in building Nigerian nation through bogus pay and allowances.

Nigeria’s lawmakers are the PS why Nigerian masses are the driver Henry Barlow talks about in his poem, “Building the Nation”

Today I did my share
In building the nation.
I drove a Permanent Secretary
To an important urgent function
In fact to a lunch at the Vic.

 

The menu reflected its importance
Cold bell beer with small talk,
Then fried chicken with niceties
Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs
Ice-cream to cover the stereotype jokes
Coffee to keep the PS awake on return journey.

 

I drove the Permanent Secretary back.
He yawned many times in back of the car
Then to keep awake, he suddenly asked,
Did you have any lunch friend?
I replied looking straight ahead
And secretly smiling at his belated concern
That I had not, but was slimming!

 

Upon which he said with seriousness
That amused more than annoyed me,
Mwanainchi, I too had none!
I attended to matters of state.
Highly delicate diplomatic duties you know,
And friend, it goes against my grain,
Causes me stomach ulcers and wind.
Ah, he continued, yawning again,
The pains we suffer in building the nation!

 

So the PS had ulcers too!
My ulcers I think are equally painful
Only they are caused by hunger,
Not sumptuous lunches!

So two nation builders
Arrived home this evening
With terrible stomach pains
The result of building the nation –
– Different ways.

 

Exactly as Henry Barlow puts it, in Nigeria are two nation builders: the Nigerian masses (driver) who were lied to through fake promises during electioneering campaign; while Nigerian lawmakers and other Nigerian politicians are the PS who got to power to enrich themselves.

They are both building the Nigerian nation. Are they not?

…but in different ways.

 

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Accused the National Assembly of Corruption, Greed, lawlessness and Impunity

The high level of corruption at the National Assembly had elicited outcry of Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He had written the National Assembly severally. His latest being January 13, 2016 letter addressed to the legislators when he accused them of corruption, greed, lawlessness, impunity.

 

He argued that the purpose of election into the Legislative Assembly particularly at the national level was to give service to the nation and not for the personal service and interest of members at the expense of the nation which seemed to have been the mentality, psychology, mindset and practice within the National Assembly since the beginning of this present democratic dispensation.

 

In a letter dated January 13 and addressed to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, the former president specifically accused the lawmakers of fixing and earning salaries and allowances far above what the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission approved for them.

He also alleged that most of the 109 senators and 369 members of the House of Representatives were receiving constituency allowances without maintaining constituency offices as the laws required of them.

 

“The two arms ran the affairs of the country unmindful of the rainy day,” he said. “The rainy day is now here. It would not work that the two arms should stand side by side with one arm pulling and without the support of the other one for good and efficient management of the economy.”

“It does not matter what else we try to do, as long as one arm of government shrouds its financial administration and management in opaqueness and practices rife with corruption, only very little, if anything at all, can be achieved in putting Nigeria on the path of sustainable and enduring democratic system, development and progress. Governance without transparency will be a mockery of democracy.”

 

National Assembly lawmakers have been caught in the web of corruption in the past, which led to chaos where they exchanged blows, threw maze (National Assembly symbol of authority) at themselves. That’s not strange to Nigerians and the rest of the world any longer. It has become tradition. Nigerians only want to see who fight better.

A friend once jokingly said:National-assembly-fighting-Nigeria

To be a good lawmaker in Nigeria you must have two powerful tools: how to embezzle billions of naira, and you must be a professional wrestler or taekwondoist.

 

Where the current corruption in the National Assembly ends, nobody knows. But I do know that one day, the “bushmeat go catch the hunter” when the masses can no longer suffer and smile.

 

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