Posted by By JOE OMOKARO on
Education Minister, Professor Fabian Osuji’s journey to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detention cell began when he allegedly sent N45 million to the National Assembly ..
Education Minister, Professor Fabian Osuji’s journey to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detention cell began when he allegedly sent N45 million to the National Assembly apparently to soften the ground for the passage of the budget of the ministry when he learnt of ‘‘a grand design to frustrate him.’’
The lawmakers’ grouse against Osuji was that he was ‘‘arrogant and insensitive’’ to their requests. Indeed, a lawmaker was said to have alleged that nobody from the National Assembly benefited from the minister by way of patronage throughout last year.
It was further alleged that members who went to the minister for one assistance or the other were said to have gone back with sad tales of humiliation.
"We were informed during one of our several meetings how the minister would keep members waiting for several hours without any acknowledgement of their presence. Not only that, he lied to members that he could not do anything to advance their political profile, thus ensuring that no project was assigned to members to execute in their constituencies," a member said.
Another reason the minister was in the bad book of the National Assembly was his alleged refusal to allow the lawmakers influence the award of federal government scholarship and admission into Unity Schools.
For this reason and many more, he was declared a persona non-grata by the lawmakers.
"By the time he realized that there was a conspiracy to frustrate him, the minister had no choice than to bow to the pressure to settle or be finished."
Professor Osuji, it was learnt, sent emissaries to the leadership of the National Assembly, particularly to the senate president, Adolphus Wabara asking him to help talk to the members of the education committees on the need to approve the Ministry’s budget estimate.
In order not to truncate the education policy of the federal government, the committee was said to have agreed to take the chunk of the vote for the office of the minister to departments where he had no direct control over.
"It was this development that made him to run to the senate president for cover, by then, the committee had concluded its deliberation on the budget."
To remedy the situation however, the minister was said to have packaged ‘‘something’’ to the National Assembly, the sharing of which has caused the disaffection between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Sources said that when the money was brought on one Saturday morning so as to keep it away from the prying eyes of journalists and members of the public, an amount was believed to have been kept aside for the Senate President, and the rest shared between the two chambers but not on equal basis.
It was learnt that the sum of N8 million sent to the House did not go round members of the committee leading to a protest to the leadership of the House.
However, the Speaker, Alhaji Bello Masari was said to have persuaded the aggrieved members not only to sheath their sword but also ensure that the scandal did not leak to the press.
Chairman of the House committee on education, Hon Garba Matasu was not in office Friday when Sunday Sun called to confirm the version of the story earlier confirmed by four members of the committee in different interviews.
Hon Matasu was exonerated in the scandal by members who spoke to Sunday Sun, saying that they confirmed that he delivered to members present the exact amount given from their Senate counterparts.
Two members of the committee were said to have declined sharing in the ‘windfall’ and asked the leadership of the House to be excluded from such patronage.
Sunday Sun gathered authoritatively that Osuji collected the money for which he used to bribe the National Assembly members from one of the parastatals under his ministry. The whistle was blown by lawmakers whose share was not delivered.
It would be recalled that recently, a member, Hon Haruna Yerima blew the whistle on crass corruption in the House being perpetrated by some committee chairmen and members.
Specifically, he mentioned that members were being bribed by a GSM provider with recharge cards every month to the tune of N7, 500.
He also said members were in the habit of demanding money and gifts from ministers and head of government agencies before approving their budget estimates.
The revelation did not go down well with the House which subsequently suspended him for one month even before asking the committee on ethics and privileges to investigate his claims.