$15m Largesse: Gbajabiamila adjourns plenary indefinitely over fear of impeachment
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday adjourned plenary indefinitely over fear of a possible impeachment plot by some lawmakers.
A report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) claimed that the lawmakers had perfected plans to impeach Gbajabiamila over the imposition of Rep. Tajudeen Abbas as the consensus candidate for the 10th House of Reps. Speaker.
Some of the lawmakers who spoke with NAN on the impeachment plot under the condition of anonymity alleged that the speaker adjourned the plenary because of the fear of impeachment.
Gbajabiamila is being accused of single-handedly manipulating the rules of the House to edge out more credible aspirants in favour of his preferred candidate Rep. Tajudeen Abbas.
Meanwhile, this is coming on the heels of allegations of unfair distribution of $15million largesse from the executive arm of government.
According to a report by Leadership, aggrieved lawmakers specifically alleged that Gbajabiamila had an underhand deal with the executive on behalf of the House to pass the N22.7trn Ways and Means borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but ended up short-changing his colleagues in sharing the $15million made available to the House to sweeten the deal.
The brewing crisis, it was learned, had forced Gbajabiamila to postpone the resumption of plenary, which was already slated for Tuesday, to buy more time and pacify the aggrieved members.
The speaker adjourned the plenary under the guise that the earlier date was announced in error.
In a terse statement on Monday, the clerk of the House, Yahaya Danzaria said, “This is to inform all Hon Members and the general public that the House of Representatives will not resume plenary on Tuesday 16th May, 2023 as earlier announced. The next adjourned date will be Wednesday 17th May, 2023 at 11:00 am. Please disregard earlier notice and date; it was made in error. All inconveniences are highly regretted.”
The House had on Tuesday, 31st January, authorised the president to borrow a fresh N1 trillion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fund the 2022 supplementary budget. While the House approved restructuring of the N1tn WMAs, the lawmakers dropped the request for N22,719,703,774,306.90 from the CBN.
After several negotiations with members of the concerned committees of the House and other critical stakeholders, Gbajabiamila secured commitment of the House to pass the request on Thursday, 4th May.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that the $15milion was allegedly negotiated for by Gbajabiamila but he kept it away from his colleagues until last week when lawmakers got wind of the funds and accused him directly.
It was further gathered that the speaker immediately ordered disbursement of $10, 000 to each lawmaker, amounting to $3.6 million, as their own share of the largesse, and adjourned plenary. A rough calculation of the amount suggested that the speaker might have kept over $11million to himself.
“You can see that he didn’t allow the plenary to reconvene as planned. He knows that there is a crisis and he doesn’t want the deputy speaker to preside over a plenary with the situation on ground. How can only one person even take more money than the entire 360 members and call himself a leader. He is too greedy,” the member said.
Another member who spoke to our correspondent alleged that short-changing lawmakers had been Gbajabiamila’s stock in trade and that the speaker already bit more than he could chew.
“Let me tell you, this is not the first time. The executive released about N10bn for members of the House ahead of the elections; we only got $10, 000 each. Members are asking, what did Femi do with the balance? A similar amount was approved for the Senate and each Senator received about $40, 000,” he said.
The lawmaker said members who could not physically collect their own share were asked to send names and photos of their trusted aides to the staff in Gbajabiamila’s office as authorisation for pick-up.
A senior legislative aide (SLA) who collected on behalf of his principal confirmed the information.
“Your principal would have to send your name and photo to the speakers’ SA via WhatsApp and you will pick-up the money with your National Assembly ID card,” the female SLA said.