House Leader Gbajabiamila finally reacts to the budget padding

The Leader of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila has broken his silence over the budget padding scandal rocking the lower chamber, following accusations of budget fraud against Yakubu Dogara, the speaker, and others by former appropriations committee chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Gbajabiamila had remained silent since the House descended into a crisis that has drawn the attention of anti-corruption agencies, and sparked calls for the Speaker to step aside.

In a message he sent out to members on Monday, Gbajabiamila said
He should not be dragged into "an arena I tried very hard to stay out of" as wants to remain neutral.

Jibrin had in 2015 withdrawn from the speakership race to back Dogara who was then running a tight race against Gbajabiamila, the then preferred candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

There were speculations that Jibrin had now teamed up with Gbajabiamila to unseat the Speaker.

But Gbajabiamila, through his media aide, Wasiu Olanrewaju, told PT he had no deal with Jibrin or any problem with Dogara.

He however called for investigation of the allegations, and cautioned against taking sides.

The lawmaker from Lagos circulated emails to colleagues after unknown people sent text messages suggesting he was part of a group working discreetly to force a leadership change in the House.

He stressed, "I am being dragged into an arena I tried very hard to stay out of only for the good of the House. The Speakership election has come and gone. The election was divisive and acrimonious but I have since worked hard to heal the wounds some of which still fester amongst members.

“It is my responsibility to bring all tendencies in a House I lead together and I have worked well with the Speaker and all other Principal officers in a bipartisan manner and in the interest of the institution and members.

“It is clear that our budget process needs radical reform and very quickly too. Yes, allegations have been made but I strongly believe judgment should not be passed based on allegations. We operate a constitutional democracy and we must at all times submit to its dictates and ethos. All parties are innocent until otherwise proven. This should be our guide. I plead with members. The mudslinging must stop.

“This text message, which desperately seeks to finger me in some macabre plot to destabilize the House is a throwback and echoes our dark post Speakership election history. The resurgence of the faceless text messengers will not help us as a House and let me quickly add that it will fail.”