Dogara Needs To Go Back To Law School Because Budget Padding Is Corruption What is budget padding? I don’t know, educate me. I am a lawyer and the speaker, and I have never heard of the word “padding”. What does padding mean?Those were some of the questions that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, fired back at members of the press, last Friday. This was in response to questions of his role in the controversy surrounding an alleged budget padding and whether he plans on resigning from office as a result. The speaker stressedthat he had never heard of the word “padding” in all his years as a member of the legislature, and that it wasn’t a criminal offense under any Nigerian law.Who is Yakubu Dogara?Yakubu Dogara is Nigeria’s latest hot mess of a politician who also doubles as Speaker of the House of Representatives, the fourth highest ranking citizen in all of Nigeria, who made the mistake of firing one of his colleagues who then accused him of budget padding. And it all went downhill from there.What is budget padding and why should I care?Contrary to what Speaker Dogara says, budget padding isn’t some new phenomenonin the history of Nigerian civilisation. It’s been with us ever since money was invented.That time that you told mumsy that you needed fifty-thousand Naira for books when really they only cost five thousand and you were planning on using the left over cash for a new smartphone? That was budget padding, and that’s what Nigerian government officials are doing. Only they are taking billions of Naira from hard working Nigerians in the middle of a recession and spending it on cars, renovating their offices and homes, and trips for their girlfriends. Youshould care because the padded funds are actually your tax money that should be paying for power, schools, healthcare and possibly airfare for our olympic athletes.Why do I need to know that Dogara is a lawyer?You don’t, except that he wants you to think that he’s “Mr Efiko.” Dogara has every right tobe proud that he studied the law at some point in his life and that but that doesn’t change the fact that strictly speaking it isn’t okay to say to tell your mom that your school fees are N100,000 when the school only expects you to pay N50,000.But he does have a point that budgetpaddingis not a crime, at least not according to ‘the books,’ and definitely not in the books of financial strategists. To this end, he appears to be sticking to his legally obtained guns claiming that adding extra amounts for contingencies, in order to be ready for possible emergencies is not a crime but onlyif he and his cohorts employed the practice of padding for its original purpose and not… say luxury vacations for Nigerian lawmakers.The discomfort for many Nigerians lies in thefact that Dogara has, in fact, heard of the term “budget padding.” He is simply implying, by virtue of refusing to acknowledge it, that he does not agree that it makes him responsible for corrupt activities. Sorry Yakubu Dogara Esq.; it does.It is important to flesh out the issue a bit more, however.Does Dogara know anything about how Nigerians survive economically?In the first place, how does he not understand that the manner in which Nigerian public officials go about budget padding is corrupt? There has never been a single Nigerian who isn’t a politician that has said “My community and I have benefitted from the government putting our money into purchasing property abroad.” Again, if the Nigerian political process were transparent enough to accommodate budget padding, or its American cousin known as ‘pork barrel spending’ or ‘earmarking’ which is common in the United States Congress, we would not be entertaining the current discourse of whether or not it is criminal.In countries where the aforementioned is popular, constituencies and municipalities benefit hugely from the outcome. Legislatorspad budgets in order to advance socioeconomic projects that they have lined up to improve their localities and the lives of the people in them. Yet even then the act comes under a lot of scrutiny from the votingpublics in these countries. If these legislators personally benefit from the process in any way they are labeled corrupt and most of the time it probably doesn’t completely destabilize the economy.But as we know in Nigeria, anything worth doing is worth doing well. So we should clap for Hon. Dogara for adding nonexistent expenditures to the 2016 Appropriation Bill (National Budget) with the intent to later extract their financial equivalent for personal use as alleged by the former Chairman of theHouse of Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin. Legally speaking Dogara may not have committed a crime because hedidn’t have a chance to take anything and no one has proven anything… yet. But in the eyes of the millions of Nigerians who have tosuffer economic hardship because the Vice President supposedly needs more books than all the university students in Nigeria, he has.…Or maybe he doesn’t care?Maybe Honorable “Efiko” Dogara just doesn’t give a…It is disturbing that Dogara is not “worried over anything,” or remorseful in the face of calls for his resignation. Members of the rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), are part of the section of Nigerians who disagree with Speaker Dogara on his stance. The group was involved in petitioning for Dogara’s probe and believe that he and other corrupt officials should indeed resign. According to SERAP, Dogara’s offense is in the same league as diversion and misappropriation of public funds, conspiracy to act corruptly and illicit enrichment. These are crimes under Nigerian laws. SERAP has pointed out, amongst other things that “budget padding” is actually stealing under the provisions of both the EFCC and ICPC Acts.