I was part of a group that met the embattled lawmaker, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, on October 3. It was a mission arranged by the social media community to establish the fact of his conflict with his colleagues at the House of Representatives, which has resulted in his suspension for 180 days.
The meeting was a re-introduction to revelations the lawmaker has already made, and an opportunity for us to ask him some of the questions surrounding his new-found activism. The event was a convergence of people who, ordinarily, wouldn’t have been under one roof. Because of differing political inclinations.
Jibrin began with a familiar description of the the Nigerian lower chamber, attributing the disdain for lawmakers to their double-standards, that they are won’t to grilling government officials in the day, and accepting bribes from the same characters at night.
“What happened at the House of Reps,” he said, “isn’t padding. What happened is a budget fraud.” And then came a clarification, that the National Assembly indeed has the Power of Appropriation, and that what he meant by his accusations of frauds by his colleagues was, that power was abused.
He disclosed that projects were inserted in the budget by a clique led by the Speaker, without feasibility study, that they created projects and gave their own cost estimates. They didn’t involve evaluators. How a legislature got to fix the costs of projects in the national budget over a dinner or lunch, really beats me.
As to why his colleagues at the House of Representatives are unwilling to join his force against budget fraud, Jibrin answered that it’s because the Speaker has sworn to protect their allowances. And that’s even the high-point of the meeting, the horrifying revelation that each member of the House receives N10 million monthly. I won’t even bother about the mathematics of this unfair use of public funds.
Though Jibrin was subjected to tough questions by participants, I thought it was a miscalculation for us to throw out the bathwater with the baby. And this was made even easier with his response to a question, that he’s not without blame, and that the call for probity shouldn’t be centred around him.
And yes, somebody telling you his colleagues are abusing public trust and misusing resources of the nation isn’t asking you to make him a hero, he’s telling you to save your nation from them – and he’s not exonerated from the mess.
Whether we like Abdulmumin Jibrin or not is immaterial, our concern should be the veracity of his revelations and how to forestall recurrence of a gang of bandits creating projects for the nation and deciding their costs over a lunch or dinner. Without involving any evaluator.
He’s alerted us to a systemic flaw in an institution and how we are being serially scammed and taken for granted. Expected from us is an alliance to facilitate conviction of all responsible, even him too – if found guilty.
I don’t see how this is difficult to understand, why we have to be a drama queen over an unambiguous issue. By the way, “whistleblower” means an insider who has an information the people don’t. It doesn’t mean innocent participant. The word for that is “saint”, and saint isn’t a synonym of whistleblower.
But while we are contemplating what to make of Abdulmumin Jibrin’s revelations, some Nigerians have already taken up the challenge to confront the National Assembly, and they even kept kept vigil at the premises a day after our meeting with one of them. This is the only way to liberate this country, refusing to let those who have abused our trust and misused our resources get away with their transgressions.
Abdulmumin Jibrin’s travail since he embarked on this campaign to exposed an institutional corruption isn’t just a bad precedent, it contradicts the governing party’s commitment to fighting corruption as it promised. Any public servant intending to tread this path, to show Nigerians how they are being scammed, has already changed his or her mind, afraid of being similarly ostracised by the Establishment.
The worst twist since the House of Representatives corruption scandal began was APC’s letter to the whistleblowing lawmaker, asking him to stop revealing that abuse of public trust. That was an evidence of one thing, that the governing party sees corruption as an “abuse, misuse or disuse” of public funds or power by anyone other than those that represent its interests.
Perhaps this is why the same APC-led government trying former government officials – and recording successes on the pages of newspapers – condones corruption by its people at CBN, FIRS and now the House of Reps.
Our politicians may have shown the public they are different, but the truth is they are all united in protection of their corrupt practices and roles in permitting them. Nothing was done about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s revelations of corrupt practices in the Jonathan-led government, just the way nothing is being done about Jibrin’s. And whether Jibrin too is guilty is a distraction too me. My interest is whether his revelations are true, and why they are being swept under the rug by a change-advocating government and political party. May God save us from us!