REPS N9BN CAPITAL VOTE: MINORITY LEADER FAULTS PROGRESSIVES MALAYE'S GROUP
The Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ali Ndume on Thursday took on lawmakers who accused the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole of mismanaging N9million capital vote, saying no leader can spend money belonging to the House.
Reacting to allegation of mismanagement of the capital vote of the House in the last two years by the 'Progressives Group' led by Mr Dino Melaye on Wednesday at the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum given the Speaker to resign from office, Ndume said those making the call demonstrated their ignorance on how the House was being managed.
'Members of the Progressives had proved their ignorance on how funds budgeted for the House are spent, this was why they levelled such hollow allegation which only portrayed them as desperate, disorganised and ill-informed,' he said.
According to him, the law had never made it that easy for an officer of the House, including the Speaker to dip hands into the vault to take money under any guise, because all expenses were subjected to checks and balance in which case, different departments were involved. 'This thing is simple. It is just like accusing the chief executive of a company or even the President of Nigeria of having the power to spend the budget of the country for the year and then somebody somewhere wakes up one morning to ask him to account for the entire national budget,' Ndume explained.
The Minority Leader dismissed allegations that the Speaker bought personal cars for himself and his deputy, Bayero Nafada, stating that facts of the cars purchased so far were never hidden, adding that the management of the National Assembly could explain how and when the cars were purchased. He added that it was the management who decided to buy the cars for Bankole and Nafada when the duo subjected to embarrassing moments when the official cars they inherited started to breakdown and friends started to offer personal cars for their comfort.
Ndume gave an instance when the official car of the Deputy Speaker broke down during a trip to Bauchi State, shortly after assuming office and the car had to be pushed before it could start, just as the Speaker too had malfunctioning cars in his convoy almost for more than a year after resuming office. He said the State Security Services (SSS) had filed reports about the dangers involved in the Speaker and his deputy going about in rickety cars, and had threatened to withdraw the security details attached to the two if the National Assembly would not purchase new cars for them.
He disclosed that the management bought only four bullet proof cars, two for Lagos office and two for Abuja.
According to Ndume, the prices for the cars were 40 percent lower than what the auto markets offered, the purchase having been done with the company which supplied them at special prices. In that regard, efforts were made to purchase them directly from representatives of the manufacturers. The Minority leader made reference to the frugal nature of the Speaker, disclosing that up till now, he was still living in his personal residence in Apo legislators' quarters, Abuja less than a year to the expiration of his tenure.
Ndume disclosed also that the Speaker at no point or the other ordered the purchase of items such as television sets, torchlight, computer sets and others as claimed by the Progressives, adding that he must have been a member of the Tenders Board for him to issue such an order. According to him, the House of Representatives had a department for supplies of such items, adding that the department was capable of offering detailed information on the purchases it had made so far.
He stated that the items being referred to were never bought on Bankole's order, noting that most of the items had earlier been stockpiled in the stores before the Speaker directed that they be distributed to members for economic reasons.
Meanwhile, the House is set to probe the litigation filed against the Speaker by an Abuja based lawyer, who prayed that he should resign on the basis of allegations not earlier levelled against the Speaker and which the leadership felt had never been substantiated.