The House of Representatives yesterday threatened to begin impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan if the 2012 Appropriation Act is not implemented 100 per cent by the time they resume from their annual recess in September.
Relying on a motion on the poor implementation of the 2012 budget and that of previous years and citing Order of Privilege, Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN, Lagos), pointed out that it was an impeachable offence for a law on the budget to be flouted consistently by the executive.
His position was supported by his colleagues though a few dissenting voices objected. He regretted that the president was in negligence of his prime obligation of implementing the money bill which would have addressed the parlous state of infrastructure and the economy of the country.
He said, “The President, by failing to implement the budget as passed by this honourable House, violates the 1999 Constitution and is therefore liable to be impeached under section 143 of the 1999 Constitution”.
He expressed high respect for the president’s personality but argued that the House could not continue to treat the matter with kid gloves, saying that there was the need to mete out the penalty to send the message home.
He said, “With great trepidation, I must confess that I like the President, he is a fine gentleman, but I like my people more, and because of this, it’s about time Mr. Speaker, that we do what is right and best for our country.
“So therefore, I want to hereby submit that, come September, we will begin to invoke and draw up articles of impeachment of Mr. President”, he declared.
An attempt by the lawmaker representing the President’s area, Hon. Karibo Nadu Soalaboye(PDP, Bayelsa) to stop the debate on three occasions failed to yield the desired result.
“We were introduced to what the President called the 2012 Budget of transformation, but what we have in our hands, is a budget of abracadabra, a budget of voodoo economics”, Gbajabiamila added, noting that “the President is not doing any member of this August body a favour, if he implements the budget”.
He went further, “Rather than implement the budget as passed, the President has set up a funny Committee headed by a Managing DIrector of a bank that gives loans to oil marketers”.
“I am at a loose end as to why a government of transformation, would deny the people the good life, by refusing to implement the budget”.
The impeachment threat came on the heels of a Motion titled: ‘Non-Implementation of the 2012 Budget’, sponsored by Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa(PDP/Taraba) and 20 others.
The motion noted that the “2012 National Budget was passed with an aggregate expenditure figure of N4.887 trillion, including the N180billion for Subsidy Re-Investment(SURE) Programme”, but regretted that despite huge earnings from agencies of government in the 1st and 2nd Quarters, Ministries, under the supervision of FInance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, are yet to implement the budget up to 35%.
In his contribution, Hon. John Enoh(PDP/Cross River), the Chairman of Appropriations Committee, said based on the $72 per barrel benchmarking of the budget and the surpassing crude pricing internationally, the government had more than enough money, including surpluses to implement the money legislation.
“The 2012 Budget ought to have been implemented without any issues”, Enoh submitted, regretting that “Less than 35 percent of the budget has been implemented”, since its passage into law last year.
He said “the excuses for lack of the implementation of budgets since 1999 were not good enough”.
In his submission, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibril(PDP/Kano), explained that a sector-by-sector finding shows that the Federal Government had enough money in its kitty to implementing every item in the budget, as he warned against, what he described as “misleading reports”, that the government was broke.
He told the House, that the Finance Committee uncovered facts that for the month of May alone, the Executive claimed to have granted a waiver of N139billion, even when it claimed earlier that waivers will be suspended.