Like the opening barrages of a cannonade, Bola Tinubu recently stirred the hornets’ nest when he accused the duo of Saraki and his legislative counterpart in the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, of a number of uncharitable misdeeds as Senate President and Speaker, respectively.
Tinubu, a former Senator as well as governor of Lagos State, had accused the duo of distorting and delaying budgets, cutting of funds meant for a couple of pro people projects and padding up budgets to suit their selfish designs.
Trust, Saraki and Dogara, as the wont of the average Nigerian politician, responded adequately, since this time around, it did seem that the strongman of the Southwest had hit the duo at the bad junction (apologies to Okonkwo Seven Seven ASA), that is below the belt, both appeared to be gasping for air, while at the same time they winced at the damage Tinubu’s remarks had done to their images.
Yours sincerely, naturally followed the dickering between both parties as it made for good reading and provided a means for debate amongst my peers, who style themselves as the pepper soup Avengers.
However, my grouse with the likes of Saraki and Dogara stems from the fact that the duo, via their sanctimonious response, must think that the average Nigerian suffers from amnesia or should I say, selective amnesia. Perhaps, they think that the ordinary Nigerian is a tabular rasa zombie, who forgets everything, particularly the misdeeds of the elite, hoping that we are more preoccupied with the ethereal matters while we are here in Nigeria. The sorry tale of how members of the Nigerian elite see the ordinary Nigerian.
The likes of Saraki and Dogara must think that we probably have etched out the happenings of Anno Domini 2016, when a new lexicon, ‘budget padding,’ was added to the wordy firmament of Nigerian politics. In that year of our Lord, Nigerians from all works of life were inundated with happenings of how officials disproportionately added monies and projects within both arms of the legislature without recourse to the dictates of the law, legislative procedure and practices. These legislative form of rascality became a huge scandal, embarrassing the nation while it made headlines aboard our national dailies; the back and forth laced with bromides greeted each story that seeped from the scandal. The denials and counter denials became worrisome, more so, with the news that the budget was missing or had disappeared like a Houdini in a classical magic trick, these and more forced the budget to be signed in May, whereas it ought to have been passed earlier, the ordinary Nigerian was worse for it.
If this does not do enough to refresh our memories, then let us move on to the Dogara/Abdulmumin imbroglio that saw the latter make allegations of budget padding against the Speaker and other members of the leadership of the House of Representatives. Abdulmumin Jubrin, member representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano, had served as chairman of Appropriations Committee before he was unceremoniously removed on the allegations that he had single handedly padded the budget for his constituency. In his own riposte, Abdulmumin accused Dogara, the deputy speaker, Tunde Lasun, chief whip, Alhassan Doguwa and minority leader, Leo Ogor, of sacking him as chairman of the Appropriation Committee because he had refused to pad Dogara’s constituency project by N40 billion, a weighty accusation which was hurriedly swept under the carpet in addition to the suspension of Abdulmumin from the House of Representatives for a year.
In what looked like a ‘you push me I pushu you,’ Abdulmumin gave a blow by blow account on the series of events that led to his estrangement with Dogara, alleging that the story that he had singlehandedly padded the budget was a red herring meant to get him out of the way.
So let me ask, going by Abdulmumin’s allegations, what does Dogara seek to educate Tinubu on or majority of Nigerians about when it comes to allegations of padding the budget? One must note that yours sincerely is not vouching for Abdulmumin, no! But is it possible that in a House of over 360 members’ only one member in Abdulmumin was guilty of padding the budget meant for a country as large as Nigeria and that he had no partners or cronies? Abdulmumin’s travails then left much unanswered but it is a testament to the fact that the budgets that passed through this present National Assembly were padded.
Saraki and Dogara may effusively choose to deny what everyone knows, after all, they have brilliant media handlers who can spin messages much to their credit. But that is not to say that Nigerians have amnesia or that we have forgotten!