Dogara Vs el-Rufai: A-looter continua… By Louis Odion, FNGE

Speaker Yakubu Dogara….Came hot under Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s fire

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.


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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.

Governor NasirAmad El-Rufai (R)… Started the ball fire of legislative scrutiny

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 actual disbursement of security vote;
but also hit him below the belt by drawing attention to his perceived
mishanding 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.

The Author, Louis Odion FNGE (A Former Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Edo State)….Angry with Elite Larceny in Nigeria’s Political Sector

 

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.

President Muhammadu Buhari….Author feels Mr. President equally fails integrity test

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.

Abdulmumin Jibrin….The Man who rubbished Dogara’s Ego

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’.

Yakubu Dogara…Failed the El-Rufai test?


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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.

EFCC Chaiman, Ibrahim Magu; ‘Is his attention needed for the Dogara/El-Rufai drama?

 

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.

Former Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola

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.

Former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso

 

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”.

Former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido

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”. 

Buhari & Osinbajo…..Are they listening to the Dogara-El-Rufai drama?

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.

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