EDITORIAL: Reforming the Corruption-ridden National Assembly Budgetary Process

National-Assembly

On July 20, Speaker Yakubu Dogara announced the removal of the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin. Initially, it appeared to have been a non event because there is a long tradition of appointing and removing committee chairs in response to in-house politicking.

This one turned out to be different. It opened the floodgates to major revelations about the inner workings and mega corruption within the National Assembly. That bastion of secrecy that has hidden the remunerations of its members from citizens who have every right to know was finally breached from within. The day after his removal, Mr. Jibrin, in his opening salvo, announced that his removal was linked to a culture of corruption and that Speaker Dogara had padded the controversial 2016 budget with 30 billion naira. Thereafter, ‘padding’ became an important element in Nigeria’s political lexicon.

Mr. Jibrin sought to take the moral high ground, claiming that he had disagreements with his colleagues in the leadership of the House because he was opposed to immunity for legislators and was an advocate for cleaning up the system of corrupt budget-making practiced by his other colleagues in the leadership.

PREMIUM TIMES, however, believes that there is no way Mr. Jibrin can extricate himself from the acts of commission and omission by his former close friends and collaborators in the House leadership but if the friction between them is leading to major revelations about mega corruption, then our investigative and prosecutorial agencies must jump on these revelations themselves and use the opportunity to sanction the guilty and bring the culture of good governance into the management of the National Assembly.

Mr. Jibrin claims that Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Chief Whip Doguwa and minority Leader Leo Ogor have been presiding over a process of large-scale illegal actions and do not have the moral uprightness to lead a body as important as the House of Representatives.

He claims that these principal officers of the House allocated to themselves alone 40 billion out of the 100 billion naira granted to the entire National Assembly. He argued that his removal from office was not unconnected with his refusal to accept an additional 30 billion naira personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the three other principal officers.

All of these officers have denied Mr. Jibrin’s accusations and they insist that they have done nothing wrong. They added that the allegations were fabrications, lies, and mere afterthought manufactured simply because the House relieved him of his position. His removal, they claimed, was based on sundry acts of misconduct, incompetence, immaturity, total disregard for his colleagues and abuse of the budgetary process, among others.

In their response, they also say that he was in the habit of collating, warehousing and manipulating sensitive information to blackmail people, sometimes apparently for pecuniary purposes. And by virtue of his position as Appropriations Chairman, he usually met with very high and senior public officers at all levels. One clear example they gave is the insertion of funds for the so-called Muhammadu Buhari Film Village in his Constituency in Kano without the consent or solicitation of Mr. President.

It appears clear therefore that all five of them have a collective history of engagement in illegalities and corruption. As is well known in police circles, when thieves are fighting, it becomes easy for law enforcement agencies to find out details of how their crimes were committed. There have been many instances of revelations of wrong doing in the National Assembly and we all remember the “Ghana must go” bags of bribes for the National Assembly displaced on the podium during the Obasanjo Administration. For the first time in the Fourth Republic, however, we now have significant evidence of systemic in-house corruption revealed in the public arena.

All the allegations made on both sides are serious and grave and cannot be allowed to go without comprehensive investigations. The ethical conduct of legislators is the foundation of democracy. The revelations have already placed on the public agenda widespread belief that legislators are corrupt, selfish, self-serving and above all, have no record of acting in the public good.

Today, the general belief is that there must be 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.

PREMIUM TIMES is concerned with process issues emanating from the revelations. First, there appears to have evolved a process in budget making in which about 20 percent of yearly budgets are “allocated” to the National Assembly for “sharing”. This is in total contradiction with the principle of zero budgeting whereby estimates are based on real expenses rather than “envelopes” that are allocated and shared. The allegations from Mr. Jibrin that the leadership of the National Assembly have been allocating billions of naira to themselves, as illegal allowances, must be addressed. Legislators must be constrained to legal remunerations alone.

The most disturbing revelation is that after committees have processed and submitted final estimates and the National Assembly has approved same, a cabal sits down after the legal process and “re-allocates” a lot of the estimates, mainly to themselves. This is criminal behaviour that erodes all legitimacy and credibility from the budget.

The revelations have also drawn attention to the growing trend in which legislators have crossed the red line between law making and law execution by choosing contractors to execute the projects they have inserted into the budget. Our laws are clear that it is the prerogative of the relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to design, award and supervise projects and contracts. This practice of dabbling into contract allocation and execution has been on-going during in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and now eight Assemblies. This must stop.

The powers of the National Assembly on appropriation are clearly spelt out in Sections 4, 59 and 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution. Section 4, empowers the National Assembly to make laws for good governance of the federation, while Section 59 confers on the Legislature the final say on the budget. Section 80 (4), on the other hand, which appears to confer on the legislature absolute power of control over public funds, states that: “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, EXCEPT IN THE MANNER PRESCRIBED BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY”. The word “MANNER” confers absolute legislative discretion on the parliament. The interpretation of the National Assembly is that they have absolute powers to do whatever they want with the budget. They are absolutely wrong.

The Constitution in Section 81.(I) gives the Executive the power to make and submit budget estimates to the National Assembly. This is because the MDAs have the experts and the cumulative knowledge to complete existing projects and design and propose new ones. What has been happening is that the National Assembly has been trespassing on the powers of the Executive of making budget estimates; they must stop. They can finalise estimates submitted to them but they cannot design and insert projects.

Mr. Jibrin himself has been accused of designing and inserting numerous road projects in his constituency into the budget. This type of illegal behaviour has created anarchy in the budgetary system and, above all, made nonsense of all accountability mechanisms, as people without expertise or mandate determine appropriation. The return of good governance would require serious investigations into the illegal acts outlined above. Even more important is the clarification of the budget making process so that each institution remains within its area of constitution competence.

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  • larro ejele

    Nigeria…..a country where the unusual is the usual…where negative is positive and positive is negative….try as u can…not in this generation nor I fear in this life time…can this be changed.

    • Imma Obonome

      @larroejele:disqus

      Arrest Speaker Dogara first thing in the morning. Arrest Bukola Saraki for presiding over

      a den of thieves called the 8th Assembly. Those first two steps will resolve thefts in today’s

      parliament by two-third. Then, audit the National Assembly bureaucracy accounts from 1999.

      That will show Nigerians how the Directors of National Assembly robbed and looted Nigeria.

  • Galantman

    While we expect relevant government with responsibilities for investigation and prosecution to do there job, it is also pertinent for all citizens to rise up to the occasion and demand that justice be done before the matter is swept under the carpet. This is also the time for civil society groups to prove there mettle. Enough of this heartlessness and betrayal of trust

  • POT calling KETTLE black!

    Premiumt Times (PT) is unarguably part of the corruption problem in Nigeria. When a news medium deliberately refuses to publish stories of pressing national matters based wholly on the religious affiliation of the person at the centre of the story rather than the substance and merit thereof of the message, then that in itself is institutional fraud and professional corruption. A classic example was the recent scathing open letter written to Buhari by one Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okojie – Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos. He had been ordained a priest in the 60s…….Only children born in the mid or late 90s can claim not to have known how sincerely fiery and direct Cardinal (then Archbishop) Okojie’s salvos can be. Thieves like Abacha, and other despots can testify to punches they got and Nigerian and Nigerians have been better for it no matter how little………………………How and why then did PT not find space for his open letter? But PT has space for letters from people Sanusi Lamido the Emir of Kano. (Because he is muslim and criticized past administration and not Buhari for the economic woes). PT has had space for every letter, comment however insensitive that Sultan of Shokoto ever made during President Jonathan’s presidency. I also remember reading Obasanjo’s open LETTERS (not just once) to President Jonathan here on PT. Even the vituperations of the uncircumcised area boy (Julius) from South Africa has space on PT because it castigated Jonathan. But when A Cardinal over 80years old takes time to speak truths to a clueless Buhari, PT remains deaf and blind. This is corruption…………………….You must first rid yourself of corruption before you speak of National Assembly——-and if you like, delete my comments, or if you chose to allow it momentarily, you can eventually super-impose the comment section with outdated and irrelevant comments from your archives as you did for your last Editorial on GMOs from America in order to shield “unwanted” comments that some of us made. This is criminal. Nonsense!

    • Okparaku_D

      Dont mind the Fowls.

  • Foreign View

    DEAR EDITOR,

    Muhamadu Buhari is Nigeria’s problem, not its solution

    ……. Pete Hoekstra (Ex U.S Intelligence Congress Chairman)

    Nigerians are suffering in pains today. They elected a morally slack person – Muhamadu Buhari – as president.
    Muhamadu Buhari has no core beliefs he’s not willing to trade off to remain in power – none! Muhamadu Buhari
    cannot fight corruption. Buhari enters into evil association in the name of political alliance to keep him in power.

    Buhari strikes deals with treasury thieves for electoral votes. He fetters his discretion on matters of right and wrong. President Buhari is too morally ambiguous to fight corruption. Buhari has been bought and sold by corrupt officials
    in the old ACN party who provided him with campaign finance. Raji Fashola bought his Ministerial post in that wise.
    There was no merit to it.

  • Foreign View

    DEAR EDITOR,

    Muhamadu Buhari is Nigeria’s problem, not its solution

    ……. Pete Hoekstra (Ex U.S Intelligence Congress Chairman)

    Nigerians are suffering in pains today. They elected a morally slack person – Muhamadu Buhari – as president.
    Muhamadu Buhari has no core beliefs he’s not willing to trade off to remain in power – none! Muhamadu Buhari
    cannot fight corruption. Buhari enters into evil association in the name of political alliance to keep him in power.

    Buhari strikes deals with treasury thieves for electoral votes. He fetters his discretion on matters of right and wrong. President Buhari is too morally ambiguous to fight corruption. Buhari has been bought and sold by corrupt officials
    in the old ACN party who provided him with campaign finance. Raji Fashola bought his Ministerial post in that wise.
    There was no merit to it.

    • Foreign View

      Muhamadu Buhari is Nigeria’s problem, not its solution (2)

      ……. Pete Hoekstra (Ex U.S Intelligence Congress Chairman)

      Muhamadu Buhari in office is now a figure-head
      as a result of his immoral alliances with thieves. Can Nigerians endure
      three more years of a morally vacuous Muhamadu Buhari? I doubt it. The United
      States government of President Barack Obama is under pressure from Congress to
      cut all support to the Buhari regime for these reasons. The German and the
      French government feel disappointed and give the Buhari government but short
      shrift nowadays.

      No western government has invited
      the Buhari government to further bilateral meeting after the first weeks of
      June 2015 when he Buhari was invited for debriefing on his plans as a
      newly-elected president. Once Muhamadu Buhari showed baleful ignorance on
      existing trade currencies in his global television interview and showed worse
      crass understanding of democracy as government for the benefit of those who
      voted him into office alone, the rest of the world left Muhamadu Buhari to stew
      in his juices.

      • Elderman 2

        THE RISK OF NIGERIA FALLING APART IN MUHAMADU BUHARI’S FUMBLING HANDS IS TOO HIGH;

        TO SAY BUHARI BE GIVEN MORE TIME AFTER HE DROVE NIGERIA INTO ECONOMIC RECESSION.

        • Constitutional Law Experts

          @adekunle_akindude:disqus

          Bukola Saraki and Ben Efeture in crime

          All said and done,
          under no rule of constitutional law is Ben Efeture – as a civil servant
          and as Clerk of the Senate – authorized by law to alter, change or amend Senate
          Standing Rules, or, and to enact those Rules so altered as binding on all
          elected Senators of Nigeria’s National Assembly.

          The Standing Orders of parliament – otherwise called Standing Rules of
          Senate in Nigeria – NEVER lapse at the end of a legislative session but
          continue to apply in perpetuity unless altered by legislators themselves at a
          session called for that purpose, preceded by debates on proposed amendments to
          be adopted or rejected by a plurality of votes.

          No such session was held
          on the 5th of June 2015; and no proposed amendment of STANDING RULES
          was tabled for a voted motion. In effect, the Senate Standing Rules used for
          Bukola Saraki’s election as Senate President on 5th June 2015 was forgery
          of the extant Standing Rules it purported to be.

          • Straight & Simple

            BUKOLA SARAKI IS LIVING ON BORROWED TIMES ON THESE CLEAR FACTS STATED.

            HE’LL BE JAILED SOONER OR LATER FOR THIS FORGERY AND FOR PANAMA LOOT.

          • Ade Omowest

            You’ve intelligently pointed out the legal route to the legitimate adjustment or change of the legally binding Legislative Standing Orders. Unfortunately, some people are castigating the government for trying to prosecute the individuals involved in the alleged illegal alteration of the Senate Standing Rules, claiming persecution, witch-hunting or discrimination against a particular tribe (to remove their son from office as Deputy Senate President). My question is must we close our eyes to illegality or forgery because ‘our sons’ are involved?

        • Pete

          I hope u are not refering to OBJ’s comment? You pls learn to listen to the living and not the dead

  • adekunle akindude

    The legislators in Nigeria are common criminals whatever ways you examine them It is sad and painful

    • Kaykay

      @adekunle_akindude:disqus

      APC party is a coalition of illiterates. There’s no one in APC with knowledge, wisdom,

      or understanding of public policy or development economics – not a single person.

      Bola Tinubu is their leader – a mentally dissolute fellow who told the public that

      the solution to economic recession is for government to keep printing money.

      How can educated Nigerians expect anything but ruin from such mentality?

      • Ade Omowest

        When and where did Tinubu say that printing money is the solution to economic crises? Can you provide an evidence or a reference point like a media interview or a release from the man? If you do this then, we can now start real discussion of how “illiterate” Tinubu is. If you have no concrete evidence, then you should refrain from tarnishing people’s reputation at this forum or keep mute.

        • Kaykay

          @AdeOmowest:disqus : MY FRIEND, don’t lose your bet. Bola Tinubu not only said it
          but WROTE IT DOWN for posterity in presumably ghost-written essay published
          in The Punch extolling what he ignorantly called COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION.
          It was the lowest point of illiteracy in Nigeria’s whole history since Oct.1st 1960.

          • Ade Omowest

            Hmm!!!, you said as quoted, “…..but WROTE IT DOWN for posterity in presumably ghost-written essay published in The Punch….bla bla bla”. So Tinubu is now a ‘GHOST’ writer? You could not even convinced yourself not to talk of reasonable people.

  • Unemployed Nigerians.

    What does Nigeria and indeed Nigerians stand to lose if these criminals like Dongara and self confessed Jubrins are arrested and shot dead? Of what economic importance is their living to Nigerians. If they live they will steal again. The govt must act quickly to punish these thieves severly otherwise angry common Nigerians might begin to carry out JUSTICE by killing these undesirable elements. Yes. They are undesirable crooked hardened criminals and only death can stop them now because Buhari is part of them.

    • Xx

      I concor. Death sentence for politicians will do the majic and rid Nigeria of corruption.

  • vagabonds in power

    Nigeria’s military says some officers are selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country’s fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

    The admission comes three weeks after the Nigerian army said a military tribunal is trying 16 officers and troops accused of offenses related to the fight against Boko Haram, including the theft and sale of ammunition.

    Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, the theater commander in northeastern Nigeria, told a news conference on Thursday that military authorities have confirmed that some soldiers were selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram. He called it a betrayal of the Nigerian people. He gave no more details.

    • Xx

      Premumu TImes will not report this. NEVER! Rather it is manufactured stories by the FG’s wing of MEND that associates world statesman – President Jonatha (PhD) with Avengers that Premumu Times will report as lead news on its useless web pages. Imagine! Northern Muslim soldiers selling weapons bought with my Niger Delta oil money back to Boko haram…and Buhari is shouting that he is winning the war. What is now the difference between Buhari and Boko haram? Over 21 Airfoce Jets are already in the Niger Delta to harras the people. Never has such jects be deployed in Sambissa to attack terrorists. Britian is the cause of all these nonsense, otherwise why should a man from Ughelli be in the same country with animals (head cutters) from Katsina and Kano who kill a christian for refusing to fast during Ramadan? Cursed is the day Lurd Lagard was born.

      • vagabonds in power

        These are some of the sponsored stories by the CIA and the Fulani mafia ati the Yoruba errand boys—are planting on the web to deceive Nigerians—Completely designed to confuse the Nigerian masses–period—–If a Political party has leaders in the Senate and the House that are adjudged as corrupt——it simply calls for the resignation of the leadership of the party from governance—kalas!————————-It means they have failed the Nation————————————meaning the Apes in APC have no control over the manchinery or structure—of the party—————-if not they will not be exposing themselves in public the way——–the Apes in APC often do———————————-Nigeria as a country is dead under the Apes in APC—-The country called Nigeria died the very day Fulani and Yorubas took over–from Ijaw man Jonathan—Cursed to death–That is the truth of the matter—it has nothing to do with militants in the creeks–of the Niger delta—-There were no militants when Buhari killed the economy of Nigeria over 30 years agao–Now –God Almgihty has finally decreed that we go our separate ways————–period————These one sided editorial does not make sense one léitttle bit—-It was not the Senators who first stole the budge from the Senate——————It was not members of the House who once forged the signature of late Yara Adua on the budget—It wass Fulani Dambazua————————————————now a Minister in the government of Buhari—-

  • vagabonds in power

    Nigeria’s military under the command of Alhaji Fulani Bingo Buhari, have admitted that some of her Fulani officers are selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country’s fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite appeals to the Fulani commanders to halt graft.

    The admission comes three weeks after the Nigerian army said a military tribunal is trying 16 officers and troops accused of offenses related to the fight against Boko Haram, including the theft and sale of ammunition.

    Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, the theater commander in northeastern Nigeria, who ins pite of threat to conceal that issue told a news conference on Thursday that military authorities have confirmed that some soldiers were selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram. He called it a betrayal of the Nigerian people. He gave no more details.————————————-

  • D Dog named Bingo Buhari

    These are some of the sponsored stories by the CIA and the Fulani mafia ati the Yoruba errand boys—being planted on the web to deceive Nigerians—Completely designed to confuse the starving Nigerian masses–period—–If a Political party has leaders in the Senate and the House that are adjudged as corrupt——it simply calls for the resignation of the leadership of the party from governance—kalas!————————-It means they have failed the Nation————————–That is to say the Apes in APC have no control over the machinery or structure—of the party—————-if not they will not be exposing themselves in public the way——–the Apes in APC often do———————————-Nigeria as a country is dead under the Apes in APC—-The country called Nigeria died the very day Fulanis ati Yorubas took over–from Ijaw man Jonathan—Cursed to death-right from the era of Fulanis like Balewa—Shagari—Buhari—-the Semi Fulani Ibb–then Yara Adau and to Buhari again—for the final kill——-Go study the history of these Fulanis——Its no tribalism–but the truth!—–Our current sufferings have nothing to do with militants in the creeks–of the Niger delta—-There were no militants when Buhari killed the economy of Nigeria over 30 years ago———————–Now –God Almighty has decreed that we go our separate ways————–period————These one sided editorial do not make sense one little bit—-It was not the Senators led by Saraki that first stole the budge from the Senate——————It was not members of the House who once forged the signature of late Yara Adua on the budget—It was Fulani Dambazua————————————————now a Minister in the government of Buhari—————–who forged the signature of Yara Adua on the budget and smuggled him into Nigeria from Mecca———–Freedom is our goal!———–

  • John Adewale

    Premium Times wrote a damn good editorial here – kudos! If only President Buhari were fighting corruption!

    But unfortunately President Buhari does not fight corruption. Buhari looks at corruption with a blank head.

    • separation is the answer

      Was it the PDP that padded the budget–NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!——–IT WAS THE ALLEGED SAINTS AND Apes in APC————————WHO SWORE TO ALLAH NEVER TO STEAL-But ended up as the worst thieves on mother earth

  • time 4 d apes in apc 2 quit

    These are some of the sponsored stories by the CIA and the Fulani mafia ati the Yoruba errand boys—being planted on the web to deceive Nigerians—Completely designed to confuse the starving Nigerian masses–period—–If a Political party has leaders in the Senate and the House that are adjudged as corrupt——it simply calls for the resignation of the leadership of the party from governance—kalas!————————-It means they have failed the Nation————————–That is to say the Apes in APC have no control over the machinery or structure—of the party—————-if not they will not be exposing themselves in public the way——–the Apes in APC often do———————————-Nigeria as a country is dead under the Apes in APC—-The country called Nigeria died the very day Fulanis ati Yorubas took over–from Ijaw man Jonathan—Cursed to death-right from the era of Fulanis like Balewa—Shagari—Buhari—-the Semi Fulani Ibb–then Yara Adau and to Buhari again—for the final kill——-Go study the history of these Fulanis——Its no tribalism–but the truth!—–Our current sufferings have nothing to do with militants in the creeks–of the Niger delta—-There were no militants when Buhari killed the economy of Nigeria over 30 years ago———————–Now –God Almighty has decreed that we go our separate ways————–period————These one sided editorial do not make sense one little bit—-It was not the Senators led by Saraki that first stole the budge from the Senate——————It was not members of the House who once forged the signature of late Yara Adua on the budget—It was Fulani Dambazua————————————————now a Minister in the government of Buhari—————–who forged the signature of Yara Adua on the budget and smuggled him into Nigeria from Mecca———–Freedom is our goal!———–

  • Kamalu

    Whether Rep Jubrin is acting the bad guy after the process of sharing the loot went awry or he is merely consciously acting a repentant prodigal son, I think there are some elements of benevolent fate on Nigeria from the National Assembly crisis. What is happening is akin to why the five leprous governors of PDP led by Rotimi Amechi switched allegiance to produce the Presidency of Muhammad Buhari. Irrespective of any body’s misgivings the actions of those turncoat governors is today leading Nigeria to her self rediscovery despite the current economic challenges. It is on the strength of above that I would rather view Jubrin as a repentant thief who is more nationalistic than those he is in a combat relationship.