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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

2018 budget: Muslim group reacts to alleged demand of bribe from MDAs by NASS

The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has stated that the Nigerian Senate are allegedly demanding bribes as condition for passing the budgets of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, because those of them seeking re-election are desperate for money to fund their ambition.

In a statement issued on Monday morning by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, MURIC said the lawmakers were frustrating heads of MDAs "who refuse to play ball" by endlessly summoning them, asking the heads of MDAs irrelevant questions and requesting documents that have no bearing on the budget.

The group went on to state that, "the attitude of Nigerian lawmakers to the war against corruption may also have been partly responsible for the recent negative report on corruption in Nigeria by some international agencies."

Reacting to a report that chairmen of Senate committees pointedly asked heads of MDAs: "What are you giving us?", MURIC said, "It is most embarrassing, highly scandalous and very preposterous. This practice is irreconcilable with the prestigious status of the representatives of the Nigerian people. It is a monumental tragedy and a huge disappointment. Our representatives have let us down. Our hearts bleed.

"We can understand the desperation for funds on the part of lawmakers particularly at this period. Those seeking re-election need money to fund their ambition. This informs the current upsurge in pressures. They frustrate heads of MDAs who refuse to play ball. They summon them endless times. They ask them irrelevant questions. They request for documents that have no bearing on the budget. The attitude of Nigerian lawmakers to the war against corruption may also have been partly responsible for the recent negative report on corruption in Nigeria by some international agencies.

"Although the lawmakers have denied this allegation, the fact that the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, affirmed that all the details needed by the lawmakers had been provided is quite didactic. It means the lawmakers are merely looking for ways to arm-twist heads of MDAs into compromising funds entrusted to them for development.

"Apart from the testimony of the DG Budget Office, the allegation against the lawmakers can also be corroborated by precedence. Some lawmakers did it before and got away with it. It is on record that Nigerian senators demanded gratification to the tune of fifty four million naira (N54m) from Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as a condition for ratifying his ministerial appointment in 2003. To pass the budget of the Ministry of Education, they also demanded fifty five million naira. Senator Adighije later admitted being part of the committee of senate on education that took bribe from Fabian Osuji, former Minister of Education.

"Surprisingly, however, nobody was arrested. None was prosecuted. Nobody was jailed. This is why they have the temerity to do it again. But they have miscalculated. A war against corruption is ongoing and Nigerians know where the lawmakers stand. Nigerians know the main cassu belli for the hostility between the executive and the legislature. For while President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to stem the high tide of corruption, Nigerian lawmakers are frustrating every move in that direction.

"Unfortunately the citizens on whose behalf Buhari is fighting corruption are docile and lethargic. Some prefer to listen to the deceitful propaganda of looters. Instead of rising against a corrupt legislature, some sing divisive tunes of gymnastic jingoism and acrobatic religiousity. Who did this to Nigeria? When will Nigerian lawmakers serve the country with dedication and patriotism? When will they put behind their lust for wealth and personal aggrandizement? Most importantly, when will Nigerians vote out corrupt, unpatriotic and egocentric lawmakers?"

MURIC went on to charge Nigerians to wake from their slumber, alleging that, "those voted into the National Assembly to represent the people are only linking.
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