Sequel to the ‘can of worms’ opened with the allegations being traded publiclybetween the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. YakubuDogara and the former Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Mr. AbdulmuminJibrin, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, has recommended a comprehensive probe into the saga. The Coalition also said that the probe should include the three other principal officers mentioned in the matter.

“The allegations are too grievous which makes the imperative need for thorough investigations inevitable; andanyone be found guilty of violating laid-down rules, procedures and the Constitution, should be prosecuted.” Mr.
DeboAdeniran, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, stated unequivocally while responding to the allegations and counter-allegations over budget padding in the House of Representatives, HOR.

“With what we are witnessing in theunfolding exposé, it is clear that the issue is of serious National importance given that the National Budget is at the very heart of the imbroglio. At this stage, where even the leadership of the HOR appears convinced that the exposé require investigation, the logical thing is to subject the matter to judicial process from investigation, prosecution if need be and application of punitive where culpability is established.”

“The conviction of the HOR has reportedly been demonstrated through thedecisionof the leadership under scrutiny to invite the ICPC that is saddled with the task of dealing with issues of official corruption and related offences; and if appropriate and necessary, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other relevant anti-graft agencies to look into the matterincluding allegations that Jibrin abused his office between 2011 and 2015 when he was the Chairman, Committee on Finance.”

”Our findings from Media reports also reveal that a group within the HOR named Transparency Group, which claim to have to collectedabout 113 signatures from lawmakers from the six geopolitical zones and across party lines is alsocalling for an external investigation into the matter.”

Adenirancontinued,saying “it is therefore clear from the division in the HOR over the padding saga that the matter cannot be reduced to one which the House can handle internally. We have always called for circumspection, thorough investigations, diligent prosecutions and regard for the rule of law when situations like this arise and that is where we stand on this matter too.”

“But the episode itself has also thrown up a major question which would raise other questions that probably only the investigations of the case will provide answers for. And the main question is – what really does ‘budget padding’ mean? Is ‘budget padding’ the bloating of the budget in terms of inflating the value of projects? Is ‘budget padding’ the addition, duplication, replication or repetition of projects to the budget into, within or outside the Appropriation Bill submitted by the Executive to the House?” The CACOL Leader asked.

“The situation remains foggy and only those involved can explain to Nigerians what actually transpired. The truth is that ‘budget padding’ recently crept into Nigerian lexicon with the first Budget of the current regime; previously it was simple enough to understand when the lingua was ‘budget inflation’ making the whole picture appear like a conscious effort to confuse Nigerians to achieve the perpetration of sharp practices.” 

“The bickering among the lawmakers should be seen in a positive light by all Nigeriansbecause it is a good omen when leaders of that sort begin to expose each otheras it usually reveals the truth in the end. It is only each of the two tortoises that know how to bite one another. All we know is that they have not been performing the functions that we sent them to perform.”

To avert occurrences like the present one in future, Adenirancalled for a review of the laws that govern the funding of the National Assembly to vest more power in the Accountant General and the Auditor General of the Federation to monitor financial flow to the lawmakers in order to make it even more difficult for the them to access money from public coffers.
“The Accountant General and Auditor General should begin to playsupervisory roles about how theythe NASS get funded. Even if they pad the budget, they won’t be able to escape the prying eyes of the Accountant General and the Auditor General of the Federation.” He said concluded.

Wale Salami

Media Coordinator, CACOL


July 29, 2016

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