Reps Budget Padding Scandal: Document 'IMPLICATES' Gbajabiamila , Fear Grips Heads of MDAs
The scandalous 2016 budget padding rattling Nigeria's lower legislative chamber is assuming a messy dimension as the embattled axed appropriation chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin refused to cease talking, opening more can of worms that are shocking Nigerians to the marrow.

Though, Jibrin had dubbed those he is fighting “the quartet,” leaving out a very important personality in the House, Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, but he unwittingly or maybe even coyly dragged Gba­jabiamila into the scandal as ac­cording to certain documents which were released by him, the Majority Leader too was listed among prin­cipal officers who were given more projects, Daily Sun reported.

In the handwritten docu­ment sighted according to Daily Sun, the House Leader is first on the list that includes the Minority Leader, the Majority Whip, Deputy Whip, Dep­uty Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Deputy Minority Whip. On the piece of paper, ministries were writ­ten beside the title, ‘Leader’ such as the ministries of Education, Envi­ronment and Solid Minerals. Then there were the agencies, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Boarder Community Agency. Though no project was listed, a sum total of N321 million was linked to these MDAs. What is quite unsettling for some lawmakers is the House Leader’s choice not to say anything. So far, Gbajabiamila has kept mum, he hasn’t tried to clarify his position or defend the House. Even with this, there are talks that meetings are be­ing held by lawmakers. Suffice to say that if lawmakers are to approach Gbajabiamila for anything, Jibrin might not just be part of such moves as he left the Loyalist Group which backed the House Leader to support Dogara to emerge Speaker. Ironical­ly, many believe that it was the fail­ure to extract a promise from Gbaja­biamila that he would be appointed Appropriations Committee chairman that led to Jibrin ditching the House Leader for the Speaker.

Meanwhile, the decision of the Federal Government to launch a full-scale investigation into alle­gations of budget padding by some members of the House of Representatives is already creating tension in some Fed­eral Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs. This has also led to panic among various heads of MDAs who might have connived with the lawmakers to pad their budget estimates.

One of the chief execu­tives who gave Saturday Sun an insight into what might be going on in the minds of his colleagues said “everyone is tensed and scared already be­cause I doubt if there is any ministry or agency where there is no adjustment by NASS in their budget estimates.” The source further said that “given that the culture of budget pad­ding in Nigeria is as old as the current democratic dispensa­tion, there has been a deep working relationship among the beaurocrats in the executive and legislative arms of govern­ment on the one hand and be­tween the beaurocrats and the lawmakers on the other hand. So, it is something that is deep and entrenched, and I doubt if any ministry or agency can es­cape a thorough and unbiased probe because if the head of an agency is not involved, his directors and other officials can work with their colleagues in NASS or the lawmakers them­selves to insert figures.”

A minister who also spoke with Saturday Sun on the de­velopment on the condition that he would not be quoted con­firmed that indeed, one of the chief executives of the agencies under his ministry may be one of those, preliminary investiga­tions have indicted. “I’m not going to speak on it because we warned them (Heads of Agen­cies) not to approach or con­nive with any lawmaker during the budget preparation but they seemed adamant”, the minister added.

A top official of one of the anti-graft agencies, which may be drafted in for further inves­tigation, and prosecution of lawmakers and other officials indicted in the ongoing probe told Saturday Sun that a num­ber of agencies had already been indicted in a covert in­vestigation already carried out. Some of the agencies are said to be those under the Ministries of Information and Culture, Agriculture, Health, Power, Works and Housing, as well as Transportation, among others.

Meanwhile, the probe panel set up by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF Abuba­kar Malami, SAN, to probe how N481 billion was added to the budget has already begun work. Confirming that the probe team headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Malami said the Federal Government was doing that to stamp out corrupt tendencies in its budget process in order to achieve success, and to ensure that the masterminds were brought to book to serve as a deterrent to would-be corrupt officials in public office.

Malami said that the panel would determine the criminal roles played by those involved in the action and how much money was hidden and the agencies of government involved in the bud­get scam.

His words: “The Federal Gov­ernment is interested in fishing out and punishing those heads of parastatals who allowed them­selves to be used by influential persons in the executive and leg­islative arms of government by importing non-existing projects into successive budgets and al­legedly making away with large sums of money budgeted for them.

“You will recall that over time, there has been this criminal con­spiracy among some levels of government resulting in budget padding by many of the parastat­als and the money diverted and shared by some powerful indi­viduals to the detriment of major­ity of Nigerians, who have been denied vital services. The present administration has taken note of the painful antics of a few power­ful elements and we have decided to fish them out and punish them for others to see that corruption is not in the interest of anybody in Nigeria.”


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