How Mark, Bankole, Others share N500 billion yearly

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Senate President, David Mark who faces an uphill task in his reelection bid in Benue, and Chairman, Appropriations Committee, Iyiola Omisore, may have upped the ante of fraud in the Senate as they have reworked the system which enables them, in concert with the leadership of both chambers, to fleece ministries, agencies and even committees of billions of Naira each budget year.

From investigations and reports from whistleblowers, gathered that Mark, Bankole, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker Usman Nafada and other principal officers of the National Assembly share a whooping N500 Billion annually from inflated budgets of Ministries and Agencies.

Senator Iyiola Omisore…the mastermind of NASS corruption

There are also new revelations as to why the leadership of the senate and some senators killed suggestions by some of their colleagues that their wages and allowances be published for Nigerians to see. This came in the wake of the shot from Central Bank Governor, Sanusi, who alleged that over 25 per cent of the nation's budget is spent on the National Assembly member recurrent.

But spokesman to Mark, kola Ologbondiyan, in a chat with, described the allegations as baseless, even though he acknowledged that the system could be abused. He tried to justify the huge quarterly allowance tagging it 'running cost' and dismissed calls for the emoluments of senators to be published in the newspapers. learnt that even though there were more qualified hands for the appropriations committee chair, Mark had insisted that it should be Omisore, who has introduced novel means of stealing from the system

According to top sources in the senate all the monies taken illegally from ministries, and committees through what is called 'first line charge', are often shared between, Mark, Omisore, Deputy senate President, senate leader, Speaker Deputy speaker, chairmen of Rules and Business, and Appropriation.

This arrangement is not going down well with most committee chairmen. They are not happy that Mark who gets N250 million as quarterly allowance should still jerk up their budget through appropriation, with the spoils not getting to them( committee chairmen). Deputy Senate President gets N170 million, while the 'floor members' get N45 Million each quarter. This allowance is different from their monthly wages and allowances.

Some of the aggrieved chairmen who spoke with said after they have tidied up their respective budgets, Omisore with support from Mark jerk up each to the tune of about N2billion.

According to them, the appropriations committee also adds no less than N5 Billion on top of each ministry and agency budget. With over 100 ministries and agencies, the total runs into several billions.

Investigations also revealed that in 2010, Senator Grace Bent, the Senate Committee Chairman on Environment had a running battle with Mr. John Odey, the Minister for Environment over the Minister's refusal to jerk-up the budget of the ministry. The battle was said to have led to a delay in handling the ministry's budget by the Senate Committee. It was not clear how the issue was later resolved. sources hinted those committees also rake in billions from their ministries. They also make some adjustments which are often agreed to by the affected ministers. Said one source” the chairmen make additions so they share the spoils with the ministers. Often times the chairmen make additions and ensure those projects to be executed by the ministries are done by their own men. Unfortunately, most times the contracts are not done”

The source continued “ that is why you see the Federal Budget running into trillions with nothing to show for it. The National Assembly adds billions, the chairmen add their own, and the ministers do theirs too. They take out huge chunks through first line charge. The last time it happened some of the chairmen protested at our executive session, but the ( Senate) President dismissed it, saying he will look into it.”

Ologbondiyan said “these things they are alleging are not feasible. The budget is not cash. So how do you agree with a minister to jerk up a budget when you don't know his disposition? Off course the system could be abused. Every arm of Government has running costs. The senate can't be different. Those clamoring that the senators should publish what they earn should publish theirs. Let those senators publish what they earn” also gathered that shortly after the CBN Governor's allegation, the Senate held a debate. At that debate, some senators, like Uche Chukwumerije and Bode Olajumoke urged their colleagues to publish what they earn. But at the executive session (closed door), Mark and the leadership dismissed it.