Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have staged a protest at the National Assembly complex, imploring Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to remove the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, over allegations of budget padding.
The CSOs, Guidance of Democracy and Development Initiative (GDDI) and Partners for Legislative Agenda in Nigeria (PLAN), insisted that the Kano North Senator cannot remain the chairman of the committee with allegations of budget padding dangling on his neck.
”It is, therefore, incumbent on you as the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to rise to the moral and patriotic occasion before you and sack the indicted Senator,” they told Lawan.
Making the demand at the weekend during the protest, leaders of the group, Comrade Danesi Momoh Prince of GDDI and Comrade Igwe Ude-Umanta, said it would be at variance with the All Progressives Congress’ anti-corruption crusade if Senator Jibrin’s continue to chair such a sensitive committee of the Red Chamber.
They stated: “We are very saddened about the manifestation of corruption in Nigeria in its instituted forms. At a period of undeniable economic downturn and financial austerity for the federal government, it is suffocating to live with the fact that as long as a character like Senator Barau Jibrin chairs the Appropriation Committee of the Senate, budget padding will be the order of the day.
”The 2020 Appropriation Act is full of padded expenditures which have now been pronounced by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as failing in all the integrity tests of accepted procedures in procurement and an aberration to the provisions of the Procurement Act.
”In the reported Constituency and Executive Tracking Exercise Phase 3 Report of the ICPC, it has become obvious that Senator Barau Jibrin has bestrode our national budget as a monstrous Colossus, creating expenditures that can only be criminally explained, or accounted for.
”And expectedly, the Senator has not denied the allegations in the ICPC report against him. A man who is found to have grossly abused our National Budget should not by any moral compass be allowed to continue to superintend over the legislative scrutiny of our National Budget.”
But countering the CSOs, another group known as Civil Society Organisations for Transparency and Accountability (CSOTA) has defended Senator Jibrin even as it passed a vote of confidence on the federal lawmaker.
Taking another protest to the same National Assembly in Abuja, spokesperson for the group, Comrade Sunday Attah, described the earlier protesters as “miscreants, hired and sponsored” by some politicians to discredit the Senator.
The pro-Jibrin protesters said, “It’s on record that Senator Barau Jibrin alongside his colleagues worked hard to deliver the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari agenda of returning the nation budgetary system to JanuaryDecember budget cycle. Nigerians are happy with this great feat achieved by these credible Nigerians, which has no doubt brought transparency and accountability in our budget system.
“We make bold to say that, under the distinguished leadership of Senator Barau Jibrin the padding of budgets has become a thing of the past and transparency, openness and accountability is the order of the day.
“It’s on this note that we wish to pass a vote of confidence on the leadership of Senator Barau Jibrin. And we urge him to stay focused and continue to do his good work for the betterment of the country and shouldn’t allow himself to be intimidated by hired urchins and political detractors.”