*How the divert, embezzle allowances of members
From Abdulmumin Jibrin
In line with my resolve to continue to expose individual and systemic corruption in the House of Representatives, I will today commence the disclosure of what many Nigerians believe is almost impossible to reveal or are not even aware of – the allowances of Members of the House.
Recall that in the last one month, I have exposed 2016 budget fraud perpetrated by Speaker Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor. I have also exposed the mismanagement and non-disclosure of the internal budget of the House, just as I exposed some other fraudulent activities perpetrated by Speaker Dogara and 9 other members. All these are in different stages of investigation.
I have offered to stand as witness against these corrupt members and continue to cooperate with the anti-corruption agencies. I have done my part, and left the rest to the anti corruption agencies, the judiciary and Nigerians. After the allowances issue, the next exposé will delve into investigative hearings and oversight activities.
My resolve to open up on the controversial allowances should be instructive to all those who think I am only out to get Speaker Dogara out of his seat. If that is my mission, I will definitely not go into the issue of allowances, which is the only aspect that unites the entire House.
I have said it repeatedly that this activism has been running in my blood, and thankfully the fallout of the 2016 budget became the trigger and provided me with the right avenue. I always take solace in the fact that posterity will judge not only Members of the House but our leaders and Nigerians as a whole on how they support or oppose Speaker Dogara and the other accused Principal Officers’ avaricious move to hold on to power in the face of these mounting accusations.
But if members of the House and Nigerians still feel at home with Dogara, a corrupt number 4 citizen, despite the overwhelming allegations against him and his gang, so be it! If my colleagues chose to support Speaker Dogara, I wish them safe journey. But be rest assured that in this struggle, I shall continue alone!
Many prominent Nigerians have approached me in the past few weeks and I took time to explain my mission to them. Whether they are convinced or not, I am not sure. All I know too well is that none of them, after listening to me, insisted that I drop this line of action. I have said it over and over again that I will continue this anti-corruption crusade to wipe out corruption in the House and trigger internal reforms so that Nigerians can have the ideal representatives they yearn for.
The imperative of having a corrupt-free House of Representatives cannot be over-emphasized. It is only when the Legislature comes with purity that effective oversight will be carried out and investigative hearing to expose fraud and corruption can be undertaken. When the House is corrupt, it affects the whole country because the House of Representatives is the largest representation of Nigerians. This must be the starting point of the fight against corruption. I dare say the root of our economic, political and social problems as a country lies in the House. No amount of economic strategy will succeed in this country if we do not put hands together and decisively deal with corruption in the House.
The consequential effect of dealing with corruption in the House, especially the allowances issue, will take its toll on even elections. Candidates usually spend so much money hoping that they can recoup from the huge allowances they will receive when elected into House. When you know that there is no such money in the House to be shared, I am sure nobody will want to put in so much money just to win an election to the House. The resultant effect will be that only people who truly want to serve will vie for the office, and voters will be obliged to vote according to the dictate of their conscience. This is just one advantage.
Now we come to the crux of the matter. It should be noted, however, that money is voted as “running cost” to members apart from salaries. You don’t need a professor or a committee of technocrats to tell you what is reasonable as running cost for member of the House and also how the money should be administered and who should be the recipient of the money.
The way the allowances of members is currently structured can not pass the integrity test of any of the aforesaid. The issue of allowances of Members of the House is another systemic corruption. Since you can not afford the systemic shock if you go all out and arrest 200 to 300 members at once, what you do is to deal with the issues in phases.
Today, I will start with the 10 Principal Officers of the House of Representatives. If just these 10 are named and shamed it will force reform in the House. I will therefore provide what each one of them had collected as “office running cost” in their entire stay in the House. If any one of them disputes my figure, he or she should not make a drama out of it but just simply tell the country how much he or she has collected.
Running cost is a money collected by many members (with a few exception) and used as personal funds. No more, no less – case closed! Most of these members use it to acquire properties, cars and live a life of luxury they never lived before coming to the House. Though there exist systems for retirement of such money but a simple investigation by a primary school pupil will reveal the massive fraud therein.
From computation of various sub heads of allowances of the House, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has been in the House from 2007 to date. He has received about 1.5billion naira. Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun has been in the house from 2011 to date. He has received about 800million naira. House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila has been in the House from 2003 to date. He has received about N1.2billion. Deputy House Leader Buba has been in the House from 2007 to date. He received about N1.2billion. Whip Alhassan Doguwa has been in the House from 2003 to date. He has received about N1.2 billion. Deputy Whip Pally Iriase has been in the house from 2011 to date. He has received N700 million. Minority Leader Leo Ogor has been in the House from 2007 to date. He has received N1.2 billion. Deputy Minority Leader Barde has been in the House from 2011 to date. He has received N700 million. Minority Whip Chuma has been in the House from 2007 to date. He had received N800 million. And finally, Deputy Minority Whip Binta has been in the House from 2011 to date. She has received N700 million.
So in between these 10 Principal Officers, the country has pumped about N10 billion – and still counting! As I have mentioned earlier, in most cases with few exceptions, these funds are diverted for personal use. I will provide further break down of these figures in due course. I will also provide 50 additional names of members with worst cases of diversion of such funds in due course so we can name them.
As we continue this struggle to wipe out corruption and restore sanity in the House of Representatives, I will continue to urge Nigerians to remain vigilant as these corrupt elements can go to any length to change the narration and evade justice.