By ABULRAZQUE B. BARKINDO
The incessant attacks on state governors by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, is overheating the polity and, quite frankly, becoming a pattern that is giving everyone cause for concern. The last time the Speaker was in the news, he had tackled the Governor of Kaduna State, His Excellency, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, where he challenged the governor to make public his salary and security votes, to which the governor obliged, as required.
The governor had earlier demanded that the Speaker be honourable enough to come clean on the expenditures of the National Assembly, but instead, Speaker Dogara barefacedly published a miserable N346.577.87.00 receipt as his January take-home, an amount which even the most gullible knows, is barely enough for fueling his long convoy of official cars for the period.
Not done with Kaduna, Rt Hon Dogara turned his attention to the governor of his home state, His Excellency, Mohammed Abubakar Ibrahim, claiming that the state has not a single developmental project to show for its two years of existence.
This has forced governors into deep introspection and they are wondering if the Rt. Hon. Speaker is oblivious of the giant steps being taken by the current set of governors to improve the quality of governance in the country and by implication, the quality of life the governors are working assiduously to provide the Nigerian people.
Of course, governors are human and can therefore not be adjudged to be all perfect. But the governorship institution is an integral part of this democracy, just as the House of Representatives is, and if the Speaker continues in this path of disparaging governors, he may ultimately endanger this same democratic process that brought him national prominence.
It may interest Mr Speaker to note that at the last Governors’ Forum meeting of 17th of April, 2017, governors agreed to sign into the Open Governance Partnership (OGP), agreement whose key indices include, but are not limited to;
- a) Fiscal transparency
- b) Anti-corruption
- c) Access to information and
- d) Citizen engagement among several others.
The OGP is an initiative of a former managing director of the World Bank which seeks to improve governance around the world, to which Nigeria has already become a signatory under the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Kaduna State has also signed and many more governors, including Mohammed Abubakar are positively disposed to it.
This, in summary, means that the era of using governors as punching bags to score cheap political points is over.
Governors therefore wonder, what Dogara’s agenda is and who among them will receive his bouquet of tirades next? The office of governor of a state, by the actions of most of the current set of governors, is becoming so pristine that Dogara’s antecedents simply make him unqualified to aspire, assuming 2019 is the reason he is running with the hares and hunting with the wolves.
Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara should know that the world has still not received a satisfactory explanation on how the National Assembly utilised over a trillion Naira of public resources through the years and its 115 billion Naira annual budget has created its own monster in the hash tag (#OpenNASS).
Moreover, Rt Hon Dogara should remove the log in his eyes before going for the speck in other people’s eyes. The poor leadership that he offers the House of Reps, if truth be told, has reduced the institution in the eye of the Nigerian people so much that even members of Dogara’s kitchen cabinet have come out to openly accuse him of corruption.
The grievous allegations levelled against Dogara by his chosen and now suspended chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Dr Abdulmumini Jibrin, are still hanging on Dogara’s neck. But mum is the word. Instead of providing answers, Rt Hon Dogara is busy depleting the hard-earned credibility of the House of Representatives from the cerebral height where his predecessor, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, now a governor, left it.
The problem of non-payment of salaries is not exclusive to states alone. It is everywhere from the private to the public sectors including the National Assembly. Speaker Dogara should therefore not use it to play to the gallery in his attempt to bring down his political opponents. There is work to be done in the House of Representatives over which he presides and pointing accusing fingers at governors will not ultimately exonerate him when the time to account is here.
Barkindo is head, media & public affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat