Budget padding: APC moves to save Dogara, meets Speaker, Jubrin

The All Progressives Congress has intervened in the crisis rocking the House of Representatives over alleged padding of the 2016 budget.

The APC was said to have made the move to prevent the party from being “brought to dishonour.”

The APC National Working Committee, at the party’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, separately met with the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; and a former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jubrin.

It was gathered that the meetings were aimed at addressing the crisis and preventing the removal of Dogara.

A leader of the party, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “We are making moves to resolve the crisis. Dogara is a loyal party man.”

The national executive of the APC had, through a letter, summoned Jubrin to appear before leaders of the party at 2pm on Tuesday.

The party leadership had earlier on Tuesday met with Dogara.

In the letter by its Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu, the party decried the media war between the two APC lawmakers without consulting the party for resolution.

The letter read in part, “As a disciplined party, the constitution of our party has made adequate provisions on ways of resolving any issue among members. It behoves the party to take all necessary steps to ensure that no member of our family brings dishonour on the party.

“You are, therefore, by this invitation, expected to appear before the undersigned at the APC national secretariat on Tuesday, August 2, at 2pm.

“Kindly note that failure to and/or refusal to honour this invitation will amount to a decision you have made not to submit to the party.”

Jibrin arrived at the APC headquarters in Abuja in a Toyota Land Cruiser with number plate, BWR 768 AM, around 2.10pm and immediately went into a closed-door meeting with Shuaibu.

It was observed that the meeting was attended by the northern caucus in the party’s executive.

Other officers who attended the meeting are the National Secretary, Mai Bala Buni; and the National Vice Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir.

Both Jibrin and Dogara, who are at the centre of the budget-padding scandal, are from the North.

The Deputy National Chairman of the APC, Segun Oni, who was sighted around the party’s headquarters, did not attend the meeting.

The meeting, which was held in Shuaibu’s office, lasted till around 5pm.

Shuaibu, who later addressed journalists, said the meeting was a consultation among party members.

He said, “This is strictly a consultation between a very great member of the party and party officials in respect of what is going on in the House of Representatives.

“There is nothing like passing any judgment against any member of the party; we will play our role as an umpire in this matter to see how we can restore peace and unity among our members.”

Shuaibu said there was no truth in the information that the meeting was called to discipline Jibrin.

“But when certain things go off course, the party needs to call its members to know how best to reunite them. That is exactly what we did. We heard his side of the story. We earlier heard from the Speaker,” he added.

The APC chieftain further said the meeting with Jibrin was to get “a better briefing” because the party had to be carried along as the Speaker and Jibrin were members of the APC.

“We should know directly from them what is really going on,” he added.

When he was asked if the crisis had been resolved at the meeting, Shuaibu said, “I said we are discussing with them and the discussions are not concluded.

“We will continue to consult. We are not done with them. We sat with the Speaker earlier. We just finished talking with Jibrin. If the need arises, we will have a round-table discussion with both of them.’’

Jibrin also told journalists that he and the party leaders discussed “extensively” at the meeting on the crisis in the House.

He said, “We will continue to discuss. I will continue to honour the invitation of the party, respect the party, and I am sure that whatever it is, you will know in due course.”

When our correspondent asked Jibrin why it took him so long before coming out on the alleged padding of the 2016 budget, he said, “I want to restrict my discussion to the party’s invitation.”

Jibrin, from Kano State, had on Monday submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Nigeria Police Force against Dogara and some leaders of the House.

A party source, who spoke to our correspondent after the meeting, lamented that the crisis in the House was embarrassing the party.

The source, who was privy to the details of the Tuesday meeting, said Jibrin was warned against seeking out-of-party ways to air his grievances with Dogara and other leaders of the House.

The source said, “Although the issue is a legislative matter, what is going on in the House of Representatives is denting the image of the APC. The party should have been invited to mediate between the warring sides rather than involving the police, the ICPC and the EFCC.”

Dogara’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, could not be reached as his telephone rang out.

A text message sent to his mobile phone at 6.01pm on Tuesday was not replied to.

Also, a National Assembly source said the two lawmakers were invited to give their individual accounts on the “budget padding” allegations.

“I believe that the next thing is for a competent party organ to look into the matter,” the source added.

Meanwhile, Jibrin earlier twitted that he had received the party’s invitation, but repeated his demand that Dogara and the three principal officers he accused of “padding” the budget should step down.

He twitted, “I am confident that the party will do the right thing by supporting our resolve to wipe out corruption in the House and direct the Speaker, Dogara; the Deputy Speaker, Lasun; the Whip, Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Ogor, to reconvene the House immediately and step aside to face their imminent prosecution and save the House and our country from further embarrassment.”

Jibrin also attacked the Chairman, House Committee on Interior, Mr. Jagaba Adams-Jagaba, calling on the EFCC to investigate him for his past activities in the House.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *