2019: Hunkuyi Disassociates Self From El-Rufai’s Endorsement

The Senator representing Kaduna North senatorial district, Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, has refuted claims that he endorsed governor Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai for 2019 election.

According to Hunkuyi, names of people that were purported to have endorsed El-Rufai were generated during the registration of participants to enable them collect N10,000 as allowances.

In a statement issued by Hunkuyi’s political associate and APC chieftain, Dr Abdurrahman Usman, he said there were 26 officials in the 255 wards executives, adding that only 2 persons were invited from each ward totaling 510.

“Meanwhile, the remaining 24 party executives from 255 electoral wards totalling 6,120 were not invited. This is just about 7 per cent of the leaders of our party, and for goodness sake, how can 510 persons decide the fate of 6,120?

“What pattern of democracy is that in which people seek to disenfranchise 92 per cent of stakeholders who have the mandate to so decide who their candidate will be for election?

“There can be no further proof that the proponents of this action have simply admitted that they lost faith with the general grassroots followers of the party,” Hunkuyi explained.

Responding to a purported later written to El-Rufai as conditions for the 2019 elections, the senator said he was not privy to any of such letter claimed to have emanated from him.

“There is no need to dwell into the contents of the letter. Senator Hunkuyi wishes to challenge anybody from any quarters who is in possession of the said letter to come forward with it and should be ready to answer both for perjury and defamation of character.”

The statement explained that a communique released on September 17, 2017, arising from the meeting of the APC stakeholder meetings held in Kaduna on the same date in which Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi was also in attendance, listed among other resolutions was the endorsement of governor El-Rufai as 2019 gubernatorial candidate.

“The Distinguish Senator wish to debunk this resolution as untrue and therefore, disassociate himself from any political kangaroo arrangements.”

“The Senator is very conversant with procedures with regards to political party activities and as provided in the APC constitution and INEC stipulated guidelines for electioneering activities.

“The participants in last Saturday’s meeting were not informed to come for any endorsement, hence, any list making the rounds with names of persons and signature alleging their endorsement of the governor El-Rufai as candidate in the 2019 gubernatorial elections amounts to political fraud and should be disregarded.

“With regards to the resolution that the stakeholders meeting expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the delegate congress election in the state held on the 29 July, 2017 and affirmed the outcome of the State delegate congress to the national headquarters of the party, the Senator expressed disappointment over this crass recklessness and this further exposes the insincerity of the acclaimed resolution of reconciliation that is purportedly been sold to the party members and the general public.

“The Senator stand by the collective decision taken by the stakeholders of the party in petitioning the national headquarters of the party on the charade said to have been held on the 29 July 2017,” the statement noted.

On the affirmation passed on appointed national delegates that was forwarded to national secretariat, the statement added, “There was no agenda that accommodated such discussion , hence, nothing of such was discussed in that meeting.

“That act has further proven the ignorance of those that smuggled the item into the communique, since the list is a subject of dispute, it is the sole responsibility of the National Working Committee, NWC, that is usually sorted during their ratification meetings. To the best of my knowledge, no such meeting has taken place.

“It is important to reiterate at this point once again that the success story of Senator Hunkuyi’s political career has been and will continue to be the interest of his people served and secured in line with best democratic practices which as we all know embraces consultation at every critical phase of decision making process.

“He can never be hoodwinked into been party to anything that runs contrary to democratic ethos as obtainable in any clime. Let it be on record the Senator understand very much as a pragmatic politician the fact that power is domicile with the people can not be determine by the size of once pocket or access to public treasury, thence it flows that the will of the people by their lawful right to determining who to vote as their leader must never be taken for granted. It’s therefore sacrosanct that elected public officers must never be afraid at any given point in time to subject themselves to internal party democratic processes.

“Finally while we wish to remind the general public, especially members of our great party the APC in Kaduna State, that Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi is a true democrat who always advocates for good governance, fairness and justice for all. We would also like to seize the opportunity to pray for our dear President Muhammadu Buhari and leader for good health and more wisdom in the discharge of his duties and responsibilities as President, Commander -in- Chief of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria.”

APC Women Endorse El-Rufai For 2019

The National zonal and state women leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other stakeholders on Wednesday met in Kaduna and declared their support for Governor Nasir El-Rufai ahead of 2019.

The popular Arewa House Kaduna were full into capacity to deliberate on how to fix some of them into political space before 2019, in order to have good representation.

APC National Women Leader, Hajia Binta Mua’zu said, to achieve that, they sought and secured the support of the governor for the meeting hence the early preparation to see how to fit-in in men dominated environment especially in the northern part of the country.

Wife of the Governor, Arch Hadiza Isma El-Rufai who was impressed with the large turnout of women told the gathering that, her husband was ever ready to support and empower women’s course because, without them, he would not have possibly emerged as the state governor.

She opined that the best thing to do is to rally support for her husband so he can move the change mantra beyond 2019 while women in the state have the opportunity of fulfilling their potentials.

Addressing the women, the Facilitator and Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development in the state, Hajia Hafsat Mohammed Baba said, there is no better time to mobilize women and reawaken them especially those with political ambition than now.

According to her, “we are here today to see how the women leaders and followers can come together and chat a way forward as regards the political sphere of our dear state. We need to be well represented so our yearnings and aspirations for the improved social well-being of our children can well be channeled.

“From the theme; ‘Keep the Change’, we want to see a change in Kaduna beyond 2019. That is why my ministry brought all the leaders and followers together to discuss our issues. This meeting is targeted at arousing women consciousness in running for a political position starting from a counselor, chairman, and lawmaking.

“For example to my greatest dismay, no single woman is in current State Assembly which is why this meeting is very important now.

“We have been handling issues of rape and child abuse which will be better if we have more women at the helm of political affairs in the state and the country at large. So, if we put all these together, the only person that can help us as women to have a lesser crime society is Mallam El-Rufai and he needs s our support”, she added.

 

 

Source: The Nation

APC Holds Nationwide Hearing on Restructuring

Following the set up of a nine-man committee by the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the issue of restructuring, the head of the committee, Nasir El-Rufai has revealed that that the body would hold 13 hearings on the subject.

Whilst fielding questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday El-Rufai said, “We are going to start public hearings round the country from September 18. We have published a call for memoranda and we have started receiving a lot of comments and memoranda, particularly from young people who had never been part of this restructuring conversation, and we will go to every part of the country.

“We’ll have 13 public hearings all across the country, and by the time we listen to Nigerians and synthesise their views, we will compile and make recommendations to our party on how to operate true federalism as we promised in our constitution.

“What is important for us in the APC is to separate the signal from the noise. There is a lot of noise about restructuring, there is a lot of opportunism, there are people that restructuring is their career, that is their meal ticket and we’ll put that as the noise.”

Kaduna Crisis: Arewa Youths Insist ‘Igbo Must Go’

Despite being declared wanted by Kaduna State government, the leadership of the Arewa youths under the coalition of Northern youth groups, have reacted to the condemnation that trailed their three- month ultimatum on Tuesday asking Igbo to leave the north.

In a statement issued after their meeting, on Thursday, in Kaduna, the group insisted that the north will not be part of a federation that includes the Igbo and called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go.

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“We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process for a peaceful referendum to allow the Igbo to go. Let them go”.

The coalition had on Tuesday in Kaduna, ordered Igbo resident in the North to relocate within three months, saying that the region was no longer disposed to coexist with them in Nigeria.

“Definite steps shall be taken by the North to end the partnership by pulling out of the current federal arrangement.

“We are hereby placing the Nigerian authorities and the entire nation on notice that as from the 1st October 2017, we shall commence the implementation of visible actions to prove to the whole world that we are no longer part of any federal union that should do with the Igbo,” the coalition declared.

The statement had attracted condemnation from government and prominent Nigerians across the country.

The Kaduna state government on Wednesday ordered the arrest, investigation, and prosecution of those behind the inciting statement.

Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, had also condemned the group, describing them as faceless.

Thursday’s statement signed on behalf of the coalition by Abdulazeez Suleiman, said the coalition never called for violence or war against the Igbo, adding that the group’s statement on Tuesday was distorted.

“Some elements have for reasons best known to them, mischievously distorted the intent of our original script by alluding such words as ‘violence, ‘ ‘threat, ‘ ‘war’ and ‘mass action’ to it.

“We find this mischievous because as cultured thoroughbred northerners, we have never anywhere and at any time, under whatever circumstances, called anybody to violence as a means of conflict resolution,” the statement said.

The group also lashed at the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima for allegedly taking side with the Igbo for selfish political ambition.

The statement reads: “In strict observance of that tradition we never employ violence as a means of pursuing our interest and at every opportunity, we opt for peaceful engagements and implore people to eschew violence in all its ramifications.

“This informs why, a majority of discerning Nigerians, not necessarily northerners alone, understood and identified with our express call for the Biafrans to be allowed to actualize their long-held secessionist aspiration”.

“We restate that we have never called anybody to violence and that people should discountenance the elements of fear and threat introduced by the distortions of merchants of mischief.

“We wholeheartedly endorse the moves made variously by our leaders to allay those fears and urge people to be peaceful and law-abiding while at the same time resolutely insisting on having the right thing done by allowing the Igbo to have and move to their dream country in accordance with the universal fundamental right to self-determination.

“We restate our determination and commitment to ensuring that the North will never partake in any contrived arrangement that would still have the Biafran Igbo as a component.

“We reiterate our call on Nigerian authorities and recognized international bodies such as the ECOWAS, AU and UN to hasten the initiation of the process for the final actualization of the Biafran nation and with it the excision of the Igbo out of the present federation.

“Despite the minor distortions that caused some measure of anxiety, we make bold to say that the cheerful responses to our position which flowed through the internet and by way of personal telephone conversations nationally and universally has resonated that peace-loving Nigerians who have been tormented and menaced by the irredentist proclivities of the Igbos are overwhelmingly desirous to put an end to it.

“As we acknowledge this outpouring of patriotic support across the nation, we implore people, particularly our culture northerners to remain restraint in the face of any provocation from any quarter and to debate intelligently.

“We assure them that we shall be firm and resolute in honestly and painstakingly pursuing what we all know is a noble and just cause without hurting anyone.

“We have taken the time to analyze the reactions that trailed our declaration and were nauseated by the comments of some disgruntled northern political power mongers.

“We are particularly disappointed by the treacherous positions assumed by Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai and Kashim Shettima who in pursuit of their blind ambition for the vice presidency, chose to side with the secessionist Igbo against the interest of peace-loving Nigerians.

“El-Rufai and Shettima are openly known to be waiting in the wings for Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari to die so they can further their plots to seek the presidency.

“It appears that characters like El-Rufai have no limit on how low they can fall in their inordinate desire to achieve their long-held dream of power grab at the expense of the peace, well-being, and stability of our country.

“We would like to assure El-Rufai and his ilks that we shall continue to expose their recalcitrant treachery and opportunistic proclivities.

We also assure them that the drive for a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria in which the Igbo are not partners will continue unabated.

“Similarly, we are irked by the hordes of lies and misleading innuendos issued by Kashim Shettima, ostensibly on behalf of 19 Northern governors in which he referred to us as faceless and violent.

“By our antecedents and track record, no politician or leader of honorable pedigree and impeccable character will associate us with such fabrications and this goes to prove that Shettima has disconnected from reality as he gets intoxicated by immoral wealth and property acquisition at the expense of people of the state suffering the devastation of Boko Haram”.

El-Rufai Challenges Ex-president Goodluck Jonathan

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Tuesday told former President Goodluck Jonathan to take responsibility for presiding over the skewed distribution of ecological funds.

Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, said the issues raised by Mr. El-Rufai were not his personal opinions but the view of the committee he chairs.

Earlier, a National Executive Council, NEC, committee chaired by Mr. El-Rufai had accused Mr. Jonathan of distributing ecological funds to only governors elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in 2013.

In his reaction, Mr. Jonathan had accused the Kaduna State governor of lying against him by claiming that only PDP states benefitted from ecological funds, adding that the governor has a penchant for lying.
But Mr. El-Rufai, on Tuesday, said that rather than resort to attacks on his person, the former president should provide a rationale for presiding over the distribution of federal funds in a discriminatory manner.

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan is not a man that can take responsibility for anything,” the Kaduna state governor said.

“In March 2015, not long after making a concession call to President Buhari, he summoned his party and asked its leadership to reject the results of an election whose winner he had congratulated in private.

“That effort at duplicity failed spectacularly and the will of the people prevailed. So, no one should be surprised that he is denying presiding over the skewed distribution of ecological funds. His denial begs the question.

Commenting further, the governor said, “What special circumstances ensured that only states that were controlled by the PDP and its allied parties qualified for N2 billion each? Is it not curious that not only were his allies the only ones who got the funds, but that the various ecological problems in all 17 states required the same N2 billion across the states?

“Almighty God made it possible for the sun to shine on all. But (Mr.) Jonathan exercised his powers as President as if he governed for only his party or his family. The Jonathan government was so conscious that there was something untoward with sharing public funds in that manner that they did not publicise the payments to their preferred states.”

Mr. El-Rufai said that the former president cannot argue with the facts, adding that the payments are in the records of the Ecological Fund.

“He knowingly engaged in discriminatory disbursement of federal funds. The legality of that is open to question, despite the existence of presidential discretion,” he said.

Throwing more lights on the committee’s discovery, the Kaduna State governor said: “The (committee’s) Interim Report detailed how 17 states each received N2 billion direct support from the Ecological Fund in 2013.

“The states are Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu and Taraba.

“19 other states and the FCT did not receive this direct support. Any perusal of this list shows clearly which party controlled them as at 2013. Fifteen of the 17 recipient states had governors from the PDP, while the governors of Ondo and Anambra were from PDP-allied parties.

“As the chairman of the ad-hoc committee, (Mr.) El-Rufai drew the attention of NEC and the public to this skewed pattern of allocating the Ecological Fund.

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan has responded to this disclosure by launching a personal attack on Nasir El-Rufai. He did not make a distinction between a committee of the National Economic Council and the person chairing it.

“While this is unfortunate and calculated to draw the headlines, Dr. Jonathan strained to explain away this strange pattern of fund allocation. But the facts are not deniable. They are in official records, and cannot be erased by slinging mud at people.”

Mr. El-Rufai noted that Mr. Jonathan did not deny that the N2 billion payments were skewed to certain states.

“His mindset in trying to create an equivalence between those payments and federal support for the green wall projects in some of the northern states can be easily seen as a disingenuous argument,” he said.

Kaduna Muslims Pleads For Provision Of largeness From The State Government In This Holy Month

Fasting Muslim residents have called on the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, to borrow a leaf from other Northern state governors by providing them food stuff in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Before the coming of the El-Rufai administration, fasting Kaduna residents enjoyed similar largesse from the state government.

Previous administrations distributed rice, millet, vegetable oil, milk, sugar and other commodities to Muslims; and also hosted religious groups to Ramadan breakfast.

But Mr. El-Rufai announced that the state government would not continue the practice in 2015 when he received leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Jama’atul Nasril Islam at the Government House, Kaduna.

Mr. El-Rufai said if his government continued to fund the welfare package, it would not be able to deliver on its key programmes, considering the state’s financial situation.

“I have also been made to understand that this Ramadan period, we are supposed to have started sharing rice, milk and sugar; but we will not do that. ? One, the government is not supposed to be involved in religious activities. Two, the government is broke,” he had said.

Residents of the Kaduna metropolis, Zaria, Kubau and Birnin-Gwari local government areas, has called on the governor to reverse his policy on the issue.

Residents who spoke to our reporter confessed that they needed government help during this holy month.

“We all know how the economy is fairing. Many people are not able to get even sugar for their pap at dawn. We are begging Governor El-Rufai to help us and please distribute some food items to the locals so that we can have some ease.

“We know he had said he cannot use government money to do so but we are begging that he should take a second look,” Ibrahim Sani, a bricklayer in Tudun wada, Kaduna, said.

Hajiya Laure, a resident of Kofa in Zaria, said this year is difficult for many residents of Zaria.

“I cannot understand what is happening. With the little I have, I think more than 50 people came to my house to break their fast in the past two days.

“I think the government can help in establishing few centres where people can just break their fast. I will beg for this from the state government.”

Nasir Bala, resident of Pambegua, Kubau Local Government Area, called on other government officials and wealthy Nigerians to help the less-privileged especially in this month of Ramadan.

“Yes, the government has a duty to provide for its people but also wealthy individuals should come to the rescue of the people.

“Kano is doing it, Yobe, Sokoto and many others. I call on Governor El-Rufai to please help the people. We need it so badly this Ramadan.”

In most of the places visited, fasting Muslims were unanimous in their call for the government to come to the aid of the people.

Asked if Mr. El-Rufai would change his stance about not using state resources to feed the fasting Muslims, an aide said the state government will not change its stance.

The official, who declined to be named, said the governor and his friends have already provided similar largesse to the less privileged not only during Ramadan.

“The state government is not going to use state resources to feed or do what it is not meant for. However, the governor and his friends through his existing foundation, El-Rufai Foundation, have been feeding the less privileged, and even give out a scholarship to indigents in the state.”

Why We Are Selling Govt Houses – El-Rufai

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State while speaking at a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) correspondents chapel on Tuesday, has said that the state government decided to sell its 3,300 houses because the government only gets N1 million as rent yearly from them.

The governor who spoke through the state Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport, Alhaji Hassan Mahmood Usman said civil servants were not paying as it was expected.

According to him, what the state was spending for the maintenance of these houses was not comparable with what the government was getting from the houses.

“When we came on board, we inherited 3,300 houses and we only get N1 million as rent from these houses.

“It was based on this premise that we decided to sell them to interested buyers; we gave those living in these houses the opportunity to buy.

“Apart from that, for those who cannot buy these houses, we have invited mortgage to help them get the houses.”

El-rufai remarked that the bidding for the houses would be transparent to allow the citizens of the state acquire these houses, promising to ensure that proceeds from the sales would be judiciously used in other sectors.

He also said his government had invited 60 investors to develop and build houses that would take care of the growing housing demand in the state.

Defamation Case: Governor El-Rufai Testifies In Court (photos)

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai this morning appeared at the State High Court to testify in the libel suit he filed against The Union Newspaper in 2015 over a defamatory assets declaration story.
El-Rufai had sued the Lagos-based newspaper for reporting that he declared assets worth N90billion before the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The Union newspaper had on June 2015 published a story alleging that El-Rufai declared assets worth N90billion, including 40 mansions scattered across the country. The governor described the story as “untrue and malicious” shortly after signing the writ of summons.
“Let them come and prove that I am as rich as they claimed,” he said. ” I hope I lose the suit because if I have all these money, I would do a lot more for Kaduna State with the money.” he said.

“No one can be sworn into office as governor without declaring his assets. So, every governor in Nigeria; every elected officials must have declared his assets before the chief judge swears him in. It is not even a question requiring an answer.”

Dogara Vs El-Rufai: A-looter Continua… By Louis Odion

Though elegant-sounding and seemingly mouthful, the word “subterfuge” actually connotes and denotes something far from noble- treachery.

It describes a bid to draw a red herring and, in the context of an argument, disrupt the opponent’s stream of consciousness by smuggling a diversionary matter into the loop.

One cannot find a better word to classify the war of pay slips that erupted in the past few days between Nasir El-Rufai, the feisty Kaduna governor, and the otherwise dour-faced House of Reps Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

What began as a genial altercation between the duo at a public forum in Kaduna last weekend on the relativity of gluttony between the executive and legislative branches soon degenerated to the artillery of vouchers.

First to fire the bazooka on Monday was El-Rufai, who tendered not only his pay-slip indicating a net monthly salary of N470,521.74 but also how his N4.556b annual security vote is spent.

He was responding to Dogara’s charge that he make full disclosure on his own share of the security vote commonly perceived as a governor’s ultimate “pot of soup” (apologies to Tom Ikimi).

The Kaduna chief executive had challenged the Speaker to explain the colossal N115b the National Assembly cornered in the 2016 budget, for instance.

Goaded by what seems more of ego than a willingness to submit to public scrutiny, Dogara responded by unveiling his own pay-advice revealing a compensation package of N346,577.87, smaller than El-Rufai’s.

As a parting blow, he then not only accused the Kaduna governor of seeking to obfuscate the issue by publicizing security budget targets in the appropriation act instead of the actual disbursement of security vote, but also hit him below the belt by drawing attention to his perceived mishandling of the Southern Kaduna affair.

Taken together, the Dogara/El-Rufai tiff is a welcome development. But just as they look great on principle, both are wrong in details.

We shall return to the vexed issue of security vote presently.

While El-Rufai deserves commendation for, at least, offering to come clean on a subject most of his brother governors often consider grave secret, seeking to make an issue of the size of his monthly pay packet is self-defeating. It only averts the public mind again to the profanity in the sacrifice President Buhari and some governors earlier claimed they made by announcing own pay-cut.

Truth be told, wages and salaries are only a drop in the ocean of public expenditure. What bleeds the public treasury significantly hardly yields itself readily to the ordinary eyes of even the most forensic of auditors.

For instance, even by simple arithmetic, we will find that what PMB spares the nation monthly by the big salary cut he declared against himself in 2015 only amounts to chicken feed compared to what is spent each time he flies thousands of miles abroad to meet his doctors.

Then, the haunting irony: a forthright president who two years ago made a public show of his own pay-cut amounting to a few hundreds of thousand is now fiercely unwilling to, for instance, disclose the millions it cost Aso Rock having him go under the surgeon’s scalpel in London over 50 days.

To ensure more judicious use of taxpayers’ money, I think we should resist being seduced with the tokenism of salary cut. Rather, what should be secured is the commitment of the state executives against waste and other manifestations of prodigality.

For instance, is the next scheduled international jamboree to woo “foreign investors” really necessary? Agreed “the old boys/girls” network deserves to be serviced. But couldn’t they be challenged to think up more rigorous schemes that create more value than the now jaded option of furnishing a proposal on seminars and workshops for the workforce?

Just how many of such do the civil servants really need to perform?

As for Dogara, I think he misses the point by assuming he could dodge accountability by merely tendering old pay-slips which integrity is, by the way, already questioned by a House rebel, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Responding to the Speaker’s claim of only getting N346k monthly, the suspended Rep, who blew the whistle on the nefarious practice of budget padding last year, said the salary he, an underling, was receiving is fatter than Dogara’s.

There could then be only three probabilities: either the accountant overpaid him or he is lying or – most abominable of all – the Speaker himself is telling a big lie.

Indeed, since monetary transfer became a first-line charge in 2010, allegations of self-aggrandizement have constantly trailed the National Assembly. Rather than flaunting a cheap pay-slip, the least we expect of Dogara is dispel as false, with hard facts and precise figures, the nagging reports that federal lawmakers quietly pocket tens of millions monthly or quarterly under the guise of such opaque headings like aides’ wages and constituency allowances.

If Dogara’s miserable N346k pay-slip is to be believed, the puzzle then is by what abracadabra would the remaining over N100b be cleaned out from National Assembly’s treasury within twelve months? It must be by some bazaar obviously beyond the earshot and eye-view of the rest of us.

But the real skeletons are in Dogara’s makeshift cupboard. How relevant are the incessant foreign trips federal lawmakers embark on at taxpayers’ expense to their legislative duties? To say nothing about the other slimy charge that the so-called “public hearings” mounted by committees are often parlayed to extort hapless officials of public agencies put on the spot.

Perhaps the most incongruous, if not starkly illiterate, of all is Dogara’s new self-assigned advocacy for local councils. It is a betrayal of a warped understanding of federalism to assume the present structure is sustainable in the first place.

While it is true that many governors see allocations meant for the third tier of government as part of their own slush fund, the way to help the victims is not continuing to lament the situation.

The mess that councils largely constitutes across the nation today is partly due to poor constitutional footing. The same federal constitution that seeks to confer financial autonomy on that tier also subordinates it solely to state authorities. Only the state assembly is empowered to oversee the councils while the governor reserves the right to sack the head.

By now, it should be clear to Dogara that the present constitutional architecture is a perfect recipe for under-development. In any case, the proliferation of councils during successive military regimes rule was mostly informed by political racketeering than any thought for social justice.

It explains today’s paradox of Lagos and Kano States. By 1967, both had 20 councils each. Thirty years later, whereas Lagos remained intact with the same number of councils, another state – Jigawa – had been created out of the old Kano. So, whereas Lagos retains the original 20 councils till date, Kano and Jigawa now boast a phenomenal 71 councils (44 and 27 respectively). And the number of councils you have determines the size of your share from the national cake!

So, it is clear that the real consideration for the creation of council was far from the often advertised need to “bring development” closer to the grassroots; it’s actually formatted to be a sharing center for elite larceny.

To end this perennial fraud once and all, the historic duty before Dogara and co is to steer the nation back to the path of common sense.

Federalism presupposes that states are the units. Let the states be allowed to determine their number of councils to reflect their real needs and true aspirations.

Of all Dogara expects of El-Rufai, the most potentially “treasonable” would, of course, be a full disclosure on the security vote. It will be most unfair to argue that only the governors “chop” alone here. While the excesses of some state chief executives are inexcusable, the truth is that various security agencies actually draw from this “slush fund”.

Starved – or practically abandoned sometimes – by Abuja, heads of such security outfits daily bombard the governors with material requests ranging from operational to personal.

Those seeking to curb the abuse of what is then left of the security vote would do well by tying such quest to a re-orientation of the larger society as well. Truth be told, we also make excessive demand on public officers without bothering how they get the money, thus playing the biblical Pharisee.

For instance, when various committees of both senate and House of Reps make it a habit to constantly besiege state capitals on “oversight functions” and pay the usual “courtesy calls” on governors, how many of them will not expect, as of right, a “Ghana Must Go” bag on their way out?

And when reporters travel to a state and seek the “official side” to balance his/her “in-depth report”, how many can resist the temptation of an envelope at the exit door?

Of course, the appropriation bill signed into law does not expressly make provisions for such “stomach infrastructure”.

Today, what El-Rufai and other governors would perhaps also be too shy to make public on the security vote is the fraction that goes out to propitiate constant “pressures” from other “stakeholders”.

Of course, these include party leaders whose children are wedding. Or the local party subaltern whose wife just put to bed. “Community leaders” seeking lifeline to travel abroad for life-threatening medical procedures. Or General Overseers of churches or Imams of mosques who are going to host special crusades to “pray for the peace and stability” of the state.

From my own experience, these are some of the informal “cost centers” the security vote is applied to service.

Dogara, El-Rufai And Security Vote By Azu Ishiekwene

Speaker Yakubu Dogara meant it as a joke. When he dared Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to remove the log in his own eye by publishing the state’s security vote and how local government funds were disbursed, Dogara was sure it would be over the governor’s dead body.

The graveyard of Nigerian politics is littered with presidents and governors who pocketed billions of naira of state funds in a brazen fraud called “security vote.”

When security vote is the issue, no names are mentioned and one talks about the details in public. It’s a cesspool of slush funds with a history, which dates back to the era of former military President Ibrahim Babangida.

There was no parliament at the time. Once the Supreme Military Council approved spending, the Budget Office provided the money and the money was spent without questions.

Soldiers, who shot their way to power, were always looking over their shoulders and the Budget Office, acting on orders from above, supplied the cash the soldiers needed to suss out their enemies or keep them at bay.

When all was said and done, there was always something left for the soldiers to indulge their pleasures and line their pockets. They didn’t need to account for anything.

Their civilian successors kept this legacy. And they have kept it for 16 years, drawing huge sums of money month after month, without constitutional backing.

At a point, senior lawyer, Robert Clarke, launched a campaign against the illegality but politicians laughed him off.

Various unconfirmed reports estimate that governors get between N200m-N500m monthly as security vote. At the Presidency, it would run into at least one billion monthly.

An insider told me of a former governor in the North East who always came to Abuja “with at least N25m cash in the boot of his jeep and returned broke after each visit.”

In 2004, the former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, raised the alarm that some governors were in the habit of converting the entire monthly allocation of their states – including moneys for local governments – to dollars and transferring everything abroad.

She said, “Four to seven days after the Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting, the exchange rate goes up. That means that they (governors) are using the money to buy up dollars.

“Make telephone calls to any of the states. Ask for the governor and you would be told he has gone abroad. Not only the governors, even the commissioners of finance.”

When Dogara challenged El-Rufai on Friday, he knew where the corpses were buried. What he didn’t know was that one ‘corpse’ was about to rise from the dead.

And El-Rufai has proved yet again that even though he might be disliked for many reasons, when it comes to clear, forward thinking and getting the job done, you’ll be a fool to underestimate him.

You may argue with his style or resent his politics, but his public record in the last 16 years has been largely one of results and performance.

It would be interesting to see which governor follows next. Only a few years ago, 36 of them sat on former President Goodluck Jonathan’s neck, asking him to increase their security vote and share funds in the Excess Crude Account.

What do they do with the money?

Will Governor Abdulaziz Yari, for example, tell the world which avenging angel he paid with the Zamfara security vote to afflict hundreds of citizens with meningitis? We should know which celestial agents he paid to do the job, since the fellow thinks meningitis is God’s punishment for our sins.

Or will Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo show under what subhead he procured photos and plastered the state with life-size billboards of himself grinning while shaking hands with Obama in the White House?

The biggest joke is on Dogara. He cannot escape it by sending the spokesperson of the House to say, “The Speaker has directed the National Assembly bureaucracy to publish details of the parliament’s account.” That’s nonsense.

His six-month pay slip, which looks like the type that desperate, unemployed applicants obtain from corner shops to impress consular officers, will also not do. No drip, drip.

For years now, the world has been waiting to see the books of the National Assembly, everything. El-Rufai has challenged the lawmakers to disclose how they spent N1trillion over the years and what they do with an estimated annual budget of N115billion.

The answer is not in Dogara’s six-month pay slip. Like the devil, it’s in the details of those allowances – known and unknown – that the suspended House member, Abdulmumin Jibrin, spoke about shamelessly.

The few grown-ups in the National Assembly must feel genuinely embarrassed about what is going on there. Some have expressed concern that the National Assembly might not only be weakened by the harsh portrayal in the press, it might also be exposed to public incitement.

Well, the public has been at the receiving end for too long. While millions of workers are pining away on meager wages and millions more are either unemployed or are being owed salaries for months, legislators are having a good time. They compete with celebrities to flaunt the latest toys in their garage and even find time to make mocking videos.

Senate President Bukola Saraki and Dogara should open the books. Drip, drip will not do.

It’s also pointless playing Ping-Pong with El-Rufai, when all that Dogara is prepared to serve is a pay slip that does his reputation no good. He seriously wants the world to believe that he earns less than Jibrin?

It’s no longer a joking matter. The National Assembly should open its books or wallow in its filth.

Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview magazine and board member of the Global Editors Network.

Reps Challenges El-Rufai

The House of Representatives has challenged Governor El-Rufai to produce the breakdown of his security vote, and not to deceive the citizens with the security budget he had released.  The House also advised Governor el-Rufa’i to be conscious of his past and how the company he had interest in, Pentascope, allegedly operating from an abandoned church in The Netherlands, ruined the Nigeria Telecommunications, NITEL just as they asked him to publish the monthly break down of what he takes home as security vote.

Addressing journalists, yesterday, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Abdulrasak Namdas, advised the governor to concentrate his efforts in governing Kaduna State and stop undermining and distracting the National Assembly from playing its constitutionally assigned role in nation building. Namdas, flanked by members of the committee, said:

“He launched an attack on the National Assembly on Friday, April 7, 2017, and continued on Monday, April 10, 2017. We are aware that there are serious security issues he should be grappling with in Southern Kaduna and other governmental issues facing him. “He should not give the impression that he has no challenging work to do in Kaduna State.