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Revealed!! How Reps milk Nigeria

Posted by By Willy Eya on 2008/04/22 | Views: 624 |

Revealed!! How Reps milk Nigeria


Like poisoned mushrooms, more surprises are springing up from the House of Representatives and what it would cost Nigerians to keep them in the style they are accustomed to.

•Earmark N6.23bn for own meals, refreshment
•Package N2.8bn twice to buy vehicles

Like poisoned mushrooms, more surprises are springing up from the House of Representatives and what it would cost Nigerians to keep them in the style they are accustomed to.
When Sunday Sun broke the story of the lower House’s incredible budget last week, the House spokesman, Hon Eziuche Ubani promptly dismissed a few of the paragraphs as rumour.

But contrary to Ubani’s claims, what has come to light now is more worrisome and according to impeccable sources, the delay in signing the budget into law may not be unconnected with the nine-digit figures submitted by the honourable House.

One of such areas, Sunday Sun learnt, is that the lawmakers in their 2008 budget have earmarked approximately N2.8billion to purchase new vehicles for themselves, notwithstanding that the same amount was earmarked for the same items in last year’s budget.

It also raises the question whether or not the lawmakers returned the “unspent money” at the end of the last fiscal year.
According to Ubani’s statement during the week, the House had bought the cars for its members as provided for in the 2007 allocation. Unfortunately, the 2008 budget also has a whopping N2,750,000,000 for the same purpose under the serial number head 021010010012001.
Under the sub-head of purchase of office equipment (021010010021101), the House plans to spend N1, 720, 000, 000 while it curiously would spend another N600million on computers and Integrated information Technology project and infrastructure (021010010012103)
The brand new cars are now being distributed to the Reps in Abuja.

While majority have taken delivery of theirs, about 100 of the lawmakers, it was learnt at the weekend, are still circumspect about it, preferring to ‘watch and see” the public reaction first.
Apart from the car bazaar, more shocking is the fact that the lawmakers earmarked for themselves a whopping N6, 227,400,000 billion for “Refreshment and Meals” in the current budget.
Perhaps why it seems scandalous is the outlook of the breakdown – that is: each legislator is entitled to N114, 054.95 worth of refreshment per day.
That is one of the items under the “Miscellaneous” sub-heads of the House of Representatives budget for 2008 fiscal year.

The others, Sunday Sun learnt, include Publicity and Advertisements (N350m); Medical Expenditure – National Hospital and NASS Clinic (N250m); Postages & Courier Services (N105m) and Other Miscellaneous Expenses (N8,580,152,846).
Another contentious area, it was further gathered, was “On-going projects” sub-head, which include but not limited to Purchase of Office Equipment (N1.7bn); Purchase of Security Equipment (N600m); Purchase of Information, Video Conferencing and Printing Equipment (N500m).
Under the same sub-head are also items such as Establishment of TV/Radio Sub-station (N350m); Partitioning and Furnishing of Offices (N600m); Renovation/Decoration of White House and Annex 1 & 2 (N600m); Intercom Connectivity (N250m); Integrated Information Technology Project and Infrastructure for NASS and Purchase of Computers (N600m).

Apparently, the president, having got wind of the fact that the item was provided for in the 2007 budget, had reason to suspect foul play especially as he is not aware that the money budgeted for the vehicles was ever returned to the treasury at the end of the year.
That is why, it would seem, that some legislators are not in a hurry to go collect theirs.
The default in returning “unspent budget” for 2007 fiscal year is what cost Minister of Health, Professor Adenike Grange her job, and led to her being docked in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged fraud. It is for the same offence that Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello is being haunted by the ECFF, having been linked to the N300million unspent budget of the ministry, which she allegedly partook in sharing.

However, Hon Daniel Reyenieju would not agree that the vehicles were bought by the House leadership to appease the lawmakers. He told Sunday Sun on telephone that they were bought for Committee work. “The vehicles you are talking about are not personal. But mind you I cannot speak authoritatively on that.”

Yet again, he parried the budgetary provision of N600million to purchase Guest Houses for the Speaker of the House of Representative and his/her Deputy “in the Lagos area”.
Said Hon Reyenieju: “The Guest Houses are intended for use as residential houses for the Speaker and deputy when they are out of Abuja. It is cheaper than going to stay in hotels.
His argument did not however impress some political watchers who described it as “hollow”. They readily observed that as Lagos was not the only place the Speaker or the deputy visit, what would happen if they visited other parts of the country? “Would they have to carry the Guest Houses along?”
Similarly for the vehicles which Reyenieju said are for committee work, the political analyst asked: “If any committee has oversight assignments at, say Yenagoa, would they drive those cars all the way there, from Abuja? So what are they talking about? The vehicles that they are cruising about here in Abuja. Who is fooling who?” he queried.

On the allegation of budget padding, Hon Reyenieju rationalised it thus: “We have the constitutional right to pad the budget where necessary provided it is for the good of the people.”
He gave an insight with his own committee – Petroleum sector. “I belong to the Petroleum Committee and based on the presentation by the NNPC, we felt that the sector needed more funds, but we said they can source for it from the private sector.”
On another controversial issue – Partitioning/Furnishing of Offices - for which N600million has been set aside in the budget, Reyenieju said “it is to facilitate the job of he members. It is in the best interest of Nigerians.”

But it was learnt that the offices “came partitioned ab initio, and therefore need no re-partitioning.
Honourable Eseme, in response to enquiries about the new cars, said: “Me? I have not taken delivery of any car. In fact, what you are talking about is still in the realm of speculation. I challenge you to find out if the vehicles are for the members or the Committee members.”
Honourable Aribisala corroborated Eseme’s views thus: “The cars are not personal but for the Committee’s work. The cars were budgeted for in the 2007 fiscal year.”
But he dismissed as untrue the allegation that they padded the budget. “It is false and unfounded. The present House is different. It is focused to work for Nigerians.

Contacted, Mr. Kayode Odunaro, Media Assistant to Speaker Dimeji Bankole, said he was not competent to comment on any of the issues raised. He, however, suggested that if indeed there was partitioning of offices going on at the moment, it would be to reduce the current accommodation problems that the lawmakers are facing. For him, “there is nothing that the House is doing that is inappropriate,” and subsequently referred Sunday Sun to Hon Ubani, Chairman of the House Committee on Information, for further clarification.
But former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Professor Tam David-West is not impressed with the goings-on at the House.

Little wonder he, in a chat with Sunday Sun, advocated a radical cleansing of the system. “…Look at the squalor and the level of unemployment in the country. The budget is most irresponsible. They are now horrible and not honourable,” he insisted.
For former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Wale Olanipekun (SAN), he is not particularly surprised about what is happening at the House, “after all most of them emerged in a curious manner as lawmakers.”

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.