Speaker, Yakubu Dogara might be in serious trouble as members of the House of Representatives have become divided over his involvement in the alleged budget padding.
Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara
There was obvious tension in the House of Representatives on Monday over an alleged plot to remove the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara for his involvement in the budget padding allegations made by a former Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.
According to reports by Punch, members on vacation were forced to rush from their vacation spots to meetings in Abuja where the alleged plot was discussed.
Even after the Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila had urged members to calm down while urging members to have faith in the leadership of the House under Dogara, there is still palpable fear of the unknown.
Gbajabiamila had since maintained a sealed lips over the budget brouhaha since it started on July 21.
Gbajabiamila had refused to speak openly in support of Jibrin or Dogara, and the three other principal officers whom Jibrin had accused of padding the 2016 Budget.
The others are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
It was learnt that some persons in the House in a text message that members of the House received on Monday accused Gbajabiamila of siding with Jibrin to remove Dogara because of his silence, Punch further reported.
“This group circulated a text message among members, giving the impression that there would be a leadership change in the House.
“They attempted to re-open the old Dogara-Gbajabiamila rivalry and create mayhem,” a senior legislative official told The PUNCH in Abuja on Monday.
It read, “Plot to destabilise the leadership of the House of Reps has taken a new dimension as the Attorney-General of the Federation, working with Gbajabiamila, Jibrin and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has drafted charges to arraign and detain principal officers of the House so that the Transparency Group, who recently met with Tinubu’s wife, will effect a leadership change with Gbajabiamila as Speaker and Jibrin as the Deputy.
“This is why Jibrin did not mention Femi (Gbajabiamila) in his allegations. The 8th House won’t be anybody’s rubber stamp. We will resist them like the Senate resisted them,” the message read.
It was the message being circulated that prompted Gbajabiamila to write members to calm them, urging them to disregard the text.
He also explained that he had kept silent to avoid his comments being mistaken for taking sides. Gbajabiamila told members that he chose to break his silence because the text message gave the wrong signal.
Gbajabiamila however sent a text message to other members.
It read in part, “Since the budget controversy that engulfed the House about a week ago, I have pointedly maintained a dignified silence. I did this for the sake of the institution that I represent and which I have laboured hard to grow and protect, knowing that whatever I say could be impactful both within the House and outside it.
“I was determined to keep in place the glue that holds an otherwise fragmented House, protect its integrity and at same time avoid eroding the little confidence and vestiges of hope Nigerians have in us.
“Unfortunately, the controversy has now taken a different turn following the rather strange text making the rounds among members about my complicity in this rather sordid matter. I am being dragged into an arena I tried very hard to stay out of for the good of the House.
“The speakership election has come and gone. The election was divisive and acrimonious, but I have worked hard to heal the wounds, some of which still fester among members on both sides. It is my responsibility to bring together all tendencies in the House and I have worked well with the Speaker and all other principal officers in the interest of the institution and the country.
“The text message, which desperately seeks to finger me in some macabre plot to destabilise the House, is a throwback and echoes our dark post-speakership election history. The resurfacing of the faceless text messengers will not help us as a House, and let me quickly add that it will fail.
“My strongest critics and biggest political adversaries in the House cannot deny the fact that my commitment has always been to strengthen the legislature and its processes and our democracy as a whole.
“I consider everyone a friend and colleague and urge that as we collectively work towards a stronger legislature and strive to deepen our democracy, we do not pull back the hands of the clock or lose sight of the enormous responsibility placed upon us by providence as members of a critical arm of government.”
On Jibrin’s budget padding allegations, Gbajabiamila noted that judgment could not be passed on any official based on mere allegations.
He stressed that before the law, an accused remained innocent until proven guilty.
“It is clear that our budget process needs radical reform. Allegations have been made, but I strongly believe that judgment should not be passed based on allegations.
“We operate a constitutional democracy and we must at all times submit to its dictates and ethos. All parties are innocent until otherwise proven.
“This should be our guide. I plead with all members; the mudslinging must stop,” Gbajabiamila added.
As the crisis continues, Jibrin on Monday submitted copies of his petition against Dogara to the EFCC, ICPC and the DSS