Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the anti-padding crusader, and born-again activist is in the mind of some of several critics of the legislature, a godsend for the country’s anti-corruption campaign. His activism, it is believed, could help enthrone transparency in the making of future budgets of the Federal Government. However, those who know the crusader feel restrained from openly identifying with his cause given his controversial antecedents.
Jibrin had arrived the National Assembly in 2011 with a bang. As a first termer, he surprised many when he showed interest in the speakership using the platform of the First Termers who he organised into a pressure group that sufficiently shook that year’s leadership contest.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who won the contest took note and as is with every shrewd leader recognised Jibrin who he made chairman of the House Committee on Finance. There were some who thought that as a first termer that Tambuwal may have over patronised Jibrin with the office.
However, what Jibrin did with that position is another thing. One of the most academically endowed persons in the legislature, the lawmaker from Kano quickly made a name for himself as he quickly put the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the spot with his repeated grills. Jibrin would be remembered for his 50 questions for Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala just after the presentation of the 2014 budget.
What happened between the chairman and Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala after the answers were submitted, however, was kept off from the media despite the publicity that shadowed the issuance of the 50 questions. It is against this background that many legislators began to take a second look at Jibrin.
After the 2015 elections, Jibrin was easily one of the leading names in the leadership race. His bid, however, did not get off the ground as the majority of the returning members did not back his bid. The returning members who knew him alleged that he was arrogant.
By that, they meant he also behaved like some committee chairmen in the National Assembly who carried out their activities without regard to other committee members, a practice that has made such committee chairmen to be dubbed as sole administrators.
Given the outlook for Jibrin in the 2015 leadership contest, his second option for relevance in the House was to team up with the winning team just as he did under Tambuwal. His first option was Femi Gbajabiamila, but their negotiations fell through allegedly after the later was unable to guarantee the Kano lawmaker the position of Deputy Speaker.
Upon that, Jibrin fully immersed himself with great aplomb in the Yakubu Dogara campaign, and there was no doubt as to the positive energy he brought to the Dogara base.
Remarkably, Jibrin was the one who nominated Dogara for the position of speaker, and following the election, stood by him in the midst of all the internal intrigues within the APC as to the supremacy of the party in the distribution of principal offices of the House. When he was appointed as chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, it was no surprise to many. However, many legislative hands now believe that that was one of two major mistakes of Dogara as speaker.
As chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Jibrin allegedly stoked bitterness among his members as he according to them did not include them in the preparation of the 2016 budget. That attitude of operating as a sole administrator is what allegedly compelled the committee members to demand the removal of Jibrin as chairman.
Besides the first mistake of appointing a temperamental person as chairman of the sensitive Committee on Appropriation, the second Dogora mistake was in the removal.
The principal officers had in their regular Monday meeting preceding the recess resolved to heed the demand for the removal of Jibrin from his position. It was, however, agreed that the removal would be announced on Thursday, the last sitting day. Jibrin, however, got wind of the plan and on Wednesday during plenary approached the speaker to inform him of his decision to resign.
Even after Jibrin informed him, the speaker went ahead to announce the sack of his former acolyte thereby stoking strong repulsion on the part of Jibrin. Those in the know claim that this is the reason Jibrin is fighting. A man who had carried himself high was suddenly brought down and broken and transformed into an accidental activist determined to fall the roof on all inside.