Nigerian lawmakers move against Saraki, Dogara over budget secrecy, constituency projects

Speaker Yakubu Dogara
Speaker Yakubu Dogara

The secrecy with which the National Assembly has handled its budgets, and the lopsided manner it distributes funds for zonal intervention projects, are unsettling the lawmaking body and putting members on a collision path against the leadership, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.

Former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, had on January 10, challenged the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to make the budget open, disclosing that he and his colleagues, like most Nigerians, had no knowledge of details of the NASS budget.

Such calls have grown in the last week, and have become even more intense in the House of Representatives which for most of last year was at the centre of a devastating budget padding scandal triggered by former appropriation committee chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Mr. Jibrin accused his former ally and speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, of inserting fictitious projects worth billions of naira into the national budget, an allegation the speaker denied.

Now, members are agitating for the House budget to be made open, and for a more equitable allocation of funds for so-called intervention projects, several lawmakers told PREMIUM TIMES.

Legislators, many of them principal officers, and administrative offices of the National Assembly, said the budgets of the Senate and the House were known only to the Senate President, the Speaker and the Clerk to the National Assembly.

“It’s so secret that neither the Senate Leader nor the House Leader knows what is in the (budget),” said one source.

Senate President Bukola Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki

In multiple reports in the past, PREMIUM TIMES showed how Mr. Saraki repeatedly failed to honour his pledges to make details of the N115 billion 2016 National Assembly budget public.

With N23.347 billion in 2003, the National Assembly’s budget now stands at about N115 billion yearly, representing over 492 per cent rise in 13 years.

Until 2016, the budget had often gone as high as N150 billion a year.

In 2010, when the budget hit a shocking record sum of N154.2 billion, David Mark, Mr. Saraki’s predecessor, decided to block Nigerians from knowing details of how the National Assembly’s jumbo allocations were spent. The policy especially concealed how much members earned in allowances.

In one masterstroke of legislative brinkmanship, the National Assembly under Mr. Mark, made itself member of an exclusive club of agencies whose are deducted en-bloc (first-line charge) via statutory transfers, without disclosures.

Constituency projects

Apart from the money allocated for the National Assembly to fund its budget on first line charge, the body gets N100 billion for “zonal intervention projects”, commonly called “constituency projects”.

The Senate, with 109 members, takes 40 per cent of that amount, while 60 per cent goes to the 360-member House.

All the constituencies take share. But the sharing is so skewed that while a principal officer’s constituency gets projects that are worth over a billion naira, an ordinary member’s constituency may get a single project valued at N50 million.

House of Representatives
House of Representatives

“My constituency gets N38 million (for zonal project) in 2016,” said Aliyu Madaki, Kano lawmaker, who is amongst the members calling for reforms.

A previous investigation by PREMIUM TIMES showed that the constituency projects are at best a clever way of deceiving Nigerians, and at worst an outright theft of public funds.

While benefitting lawmakers are not paid directly, they and MDAs in which zonal projects for their constituencies are domiciled, are involved in an organized network whereby the legislators nominate through “letter of introduction” contractors who get contract awards from the MDAs.

In most cases, the contractors are predictably, fronts for members.

They pay “returns” to the lawmakers, and would therefore be at liberty to deliver a shabbily executed project.

The spokesperson for Mr. Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, denied Senators were agitating for reforms of how zonal intervention fund is shared.

“There is nothing like that,” he said.

The spokesperson for the House, Abdularzaq Namdas, did not deny the agitation for reform but explained the rationale for the current sharing formula.

“The issue of zonal intervention projects has been like that for long,” said Mr. Namdas. “The money is shared among the zones; that’s why it is called zonal intervention. So, if you are from a large state with many constituencies, you are likely to get low allocation.”

The spokesperson meant that a lawmaker from Kano or Lagos for instance was going to get allocation far less than what will be due to one from Bayelsa State.

But a Senator, seeking anonymity, disagreed.

“That’s the explanation but it is just about convenience. Why? A principal officer irrespective of his state or zone get huge allocation for his constituency. I mean if that explanation is valid and consistent Gbajabiamila who is from Lagos, with many constituencies should get something like N50 million, but he got about a billion naira,” the Senator argued.

Similarly, even lawmakers in Mr. Dogara’s camp are not buying Mr. Namdas argument.

“Is it wrong,” asked Adekola Adekoya, Ogun State, rhetorically, when his comment on the agitation for reform was sought.

“It is not bad. We want equitable distribution. I have studied the Speaker closely. I am persuaded that the leadership of the National Assembly, especially the Speaker, is looking at the agitations.”

Compelled by the agitations, the Speaker, last week, set up a six-man committee to review the sharing of the zonal intervention funds, the votes and proceedings for Wednesday showed.

A lawmaker said the committee was set up by the Speaker to defeat the call for an executive session to discuss the agitations.

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

“No to zonal representation,” said Mohammed Soba, Niger State, stressing that all members should discuss the agitation.

Whichever way, Mr. Soba expressed expectation that outcome should be known “very soon”.

“That (outcome of the agitation) should be before the end of the budget process.”

Budget Disclosure  

The leadership of the House asked members to disregard allegations made by Mr. Jibrin, a source said.

“But members believe they don’t have what to use to defend themselves before their constituents against Jibrin’s allegations because they don’t know details of their own budget,” said the source, providing basis for the call for disclosure to members.

Yet, it appears the lawmakers are not “very” concerned about the disclosure as much as the agitation for zonal intervention reform.

Several lawmakers told PREMIUM TIMES that the National Assembly leadership, particularly the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, use the budget to control lawmakers, tactically determining who gets what and when.

“Because most of us benefit from these allowances, it is really difficult to speak publicly against the leadership,” a member of the House of Representatives said.

Mr. Adekoya said he didn’t “totally” agree the budget was not known to the lawmakers.

He suggested there is possibility for the lawmakers to understand what the details of the budget are, using what they earn and use.

“If I am given N2, 000, I should be able to multiply that by 365 days. I know I use AC in my office. We have staff. There are directors and staff who are civil servants,” he said.

But the Reps’ spokesperson, Mr. Namdas, did not gloss over the secrecy around the budget. He said the leadership of the House had promised to disclose the details of the budget “not only to members but also to the public.”

A source close to Mr. Saraki said it was not as if the Senate President was not ready to disclose the NASS budget.

“But a lot of the lawmakers are not well disposed to it because they feel it will expose them to the public,” the source said.

Some insiders said many lawmakers do not care about knowing what is in their own budget, and are prepared to also stop the public from knowing, so long as their earnings keep coming.


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  • Okey Okoye

    Constituency project is a fraud and breed corruptions . In my opinion, this project should be included in the national budget without the members of National assemble having no control how the money is spend.

    • Pointsblank

      Bukola Saraki is born to steal. Only a psychiatric regimen can heal him.

      • Ms. Kiki Nelson

        @sammyctuode:disqus

        Bukola Saraki seems to be the only Nigeria who wakes up for Muslim prayers before dawn,

        and immediately thereafter, starts plotting in his mind what to steal that day before 12 noon.

        • L. Adubi

          @sammyctuode:disqus

          I just pray because I believe Bukola Saraki is already too damaged for repairs. His parents
          taught him nothing good. A boy with good upbringing would learn that nothing is more
          disgraceful than to be a thief. Bukola Sraki’s parents did not teach him that basic
          home training. Bukola Saraki then grew up to be vandal. His life example suggests
          he too cannot plausibly teach his own children not to steal.

          In effect there may be three generations of morally damaged bandits in the family history
          of the Saraki. What a shame! The only way to stop the festering of thieves in the family
          is to arrest Bukola Saraki and dump him in Kuje prison until the end of his court trial
          for violating all of the Penal Code of Nigeria.

          It is a disgrace on this generation of Nigerians that under a supposed
          anti-corruption regime of Muhamadu Buhari a crook who is also a rogue and a
          thief is still the president of the Senate. The rest of the world will be laughing at
          the 180 million slavish people called Nigerians under the rule of thieves.

  • sammyctu ode

    The way saraki is going he would soon sell his mother, wife, children and grandchildren for money. The guy is the most verochious leach the devil have given to mankind. He should know he can NEVER BECOME NIGERIANS PRESIDENT. Seems him and a tiny were trained in the same school of corruption. As for dogara anybody moving with saraki will become a corrupt animal which he is now.

    • KANMI

      @sammyctuode:disqus

      Muhamadu Buhari himself
      is a fake Messiah and a fraud rolled into one. Do you know that
      Bukola Saraki is not facing any corruption case in any court in Nigeria as at
      today? The Buhari government corruptly looks the other way not to see all the exposed
      money frauds committed by Bukola Saraki, including what EFCC uncovered as 77
      separate wire-transfers in a single day whilst Bukola Saraki was in office as
      the robber, oh sorry, governor of Kwara state.

      The Buhari
      government has not filed any court case against Bukola Saraki for swindling
      Kwara state of about three [3] billion Naira in excess deduction of I.M.F loan
      either. Since May 29, 2015, Bukola Saraki has not been summoned to any court
      for any money fraud in Nigeria. Is this the Buhari his enablers say is fighting
      corruption, when Buhari is in fact enabling corruption of the highest order?
      Nigerians must organize themselves into armed militias and fight corruption by
      themselves. Buhari is useless in any honest fight against corruption.

  • kola

    And gbajabiamila is said to have gotten a billion naira allocated for ‘his constituency’.
    All this sleaze happening in an APC DOMINATED National Assembly!
    Haha!
    Ahahahahahaha!

  • hajiya tunsj soyemi(mai suya)

    How far?
    APC, HOW FAR WITH THE GRASSCUTTER????

  • Comfortkay

    How many noise are we going to make before things will change in the assembly leadership. Only God can remove them

    • Lolade Adubi

      @Vienbuby:disqus

      I just pray because I believe Bukola Saraki is already too damaged for repairs. His parents
      taught him nothing good. A boy with good upbringing would learn that nothing is more

      disgraceful than to be a thief. Bukola Sraki’s parents did not teach him that basic

      home training. Bukola Saraki then grew up to be vandal. His life example suggests
      he too cannot plausibly teach his own children not to steal.

      In effect there may be three generations of morally damaged bandits in the family history
      of the Saraki. What a shame! The only way to stop the festering of thieves in the family

      is to arrest Bukola Saraki and dump him in Kuje prison until the end of his court trial
      for violating all of the Penal Code of Nigeria.

      It is a disgrace on this generation of Nigerians that under a supposed
      anti-corruption regime of Muhamadu Buhari a crook who is also a rogue and a
      thief is still the president of the Senate. The rest of the world will be laughing at
      the 180 million slavish people called Nigerians under the rule of thieves.

      • Kiliwi2000

        “Toyin Ojora-Saraki, the wife of the president of the Nigerian Senate, is a business front
        for her husband, Bukola Saraki. According to documents retrieved from the Mossack Fonseca
        database (Panama) the assets in her name in tax havens are held in trust for Bukola (Saraki),
        Nigeria’s third most powerful official.

        Landfield International Developments
        a company registered in the British Virgin Islands on April 8, 2014 – had Toyin Ojora-Saraki
        as sole shareholder. But it is apparent that she was a front, because Bukola Saraki has since
        discreetly taken over the company using Longmeadow Holdings, another shell company
        registered in Jersey.

        To effect the take-over, a board meeting of Landfield was purportedly
        held on January 28 2015, where it was agreed that the company be sold to Bukola Saraki for
        more than £3-million. That same day, Toyin Ojora-Saraki wrote to Mossack Fonseca informing it
        that she was transferring the beneficial ownership of Landfield to Bukola Saraki and his company.”

        …………..Mail & Guardian

        [April 22nd, 2016]

        • Tijani

          Kiliwi2000 set up a virus to malign Saraki’s wife? You’ve got a bad case of Tiliwi haterade and grsindigestion, you sure need some peptope bismaolu

  • Otile

    Is APC this corrupt? I thought that once we get rid of PDP honesty would return to the land. We are now suspicious of every APC member from Imam Mohamed to the least ape in APC.

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  • Sanssouci

    I am sure there is no day that goes by that Buhari does not regret his aloofness at such a critical time to have allowed Saraki and Dogara emerge leaders of NASS. That costly mistake has in my opinion totally demystified the APC as an “Anti-corruption” or progressive party. In a way, it is a good thing, it has allowed friends and brothers extremely divided by the 2015 campaign to now realize that there is nothing like political ideology in Naija, choosing PDP or APC is as profound and requires as much thought as choosing between chocolate or red velvet cake.

  • dami

    Actually a lot of other FG depts also have huge budgets with no oversight – e.g. CBN, N450bn…no oversight…emiefule does as he pleases…intervention projects mostly go to friends and cronies….secrecy is the foundation of corruption…make the processes open to all and everyone…kill off secrecy and corruption will be a lot difficult to perpetuate.

  • Kamalu

    These issues sounds like debilitating tsunamis which has huge potentials of combing off all those dirty deals within the legisla (thieve) two chambers. I have the feeling the time is ripe and that the time is now to know the plays behind the scenes.

    • Sanssouci

      Wait till you hear the full details about the Paris Club Refund heist then you can use the word tsunami…..

  • Kenechi Casmir

    Naija…I hail u ooo

  • Spoken word

    legislooters.

  • Olatubosun

    Saraki and Dogara we don’t want padding in the budget..
    Make it open to everyone

  • Olatubosun

    Dogara and saraki…….. Becareful

  • Olatubosun

    Saraki and Dogara are armed robbers