The House of Representatives yesterday declared that it would never be blackmailed into abandoning its planned impeachment move against President Goodluck Jonathan unless he fully implements the 2012 budget by September.
The representatives also insist that its resolve was not dictated by any ulterior motive, adding that the House was propelled by the urge to satisfy Nigerians and not a ploy to appease external factors.
Spokesman of the House Zakari Mohammed made this known in a press statement yesterday. He also stressed that the projects which they are canvassing their full implementation were for the benefit of their constituents and Nigeria in general.
The lawmakers on Thursday resolved to begin impeachment proceedings against President Jonathan if, by the time they resume from their annual recess on September 17, the budget is not fully implemented.
The grouse with the executive started when it was observed by the lawmakers that their constituency projects were the ones suffering neglect in the implementation process carried out by the executive.
The statement reads in part: “Arising from Thursday, 19th July, 2012, plenary which discussed extensively on the snail speed implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act by Mr President and the attendant ultimatum issued that if by 30th September, 2012, when the House resumes from recess, there is no marked improvement, the House would be left with no choice than to initiative impeachment proceedings.
“For the avoidance of doubt, whilst we are aware that all revenue-generating agencies have surpassed their annual target by mid this year, the House is worried that this positive development did not reflect on the implementation of the budget for the benefit of the Nigerian peoples.
“This trend, if not arrested, would worsen the already fragile state of the nation, hence the need for our quick intervention. To then insinuate that the House of Representatives took this noble step to satisfy pressure from a political party or because the constituency projects were not awarded to members or because of the drama that followed the presentation of the fuel subsidy report is, to say the least, malicious, damaging and uncharitable to the image of the Assembly.”
Zakari also clarified that members of the House could only go as far as suggesting projects for their constituencies according to the wishes conveyed by their constituents and are not the contractors who execute the projects. Therefore, he continued, they could not possibly be making impeachment threats due to contracts not awarded to lawmakers.
He said: “This bold and patriotic step by the Seventh Assembly has attracted different comments from a lot of quarters, expectedly; therefore some sponsored editorials and commentaries chose to deliberately misinform the public on the rationale behind our nationalistic stand.
“We in the legislature are lawmakers and not contractors and constituency projects’ execution has been the exclusive preserve of the executive and its agencies. At no time has there been any argument on this. Similarly what members do in the course of the budget preparation is to furnish the respective MDAs with locations and area of needs of our constituencies. The bidding processes are handled by the supervising ministries.
“All the 360 members in the House are bound by the Nigerian project; our independence and objectiveness is evident in the selection of our principal officers which we did according to our thoughts.
“To assume that we are guided by some forces outside the House of Representatives is mischievous and a deliberate ploy to misrepresent the House before the Nigerian public.”
Reiterating their resolve to go ahead with any procedure that will enhance their performance of legislative duties, the chairman of the Media and Public Affairs Committee pointed out that the “Seventh Assembly has distanced itself from the Hon. Farouk and Otedola case as evident in the bold steps we took in suspending him as chairman of the both the committees on fuel subsidy and education, in addition to encouraging the law enforcement agencies to do their work according to the dictates of the law.
“To now conclude that our resolution for Thursday was borne out of selfish motives is terribly out of place. We would however continue to raise our voices to the highest ebb. Where we sight injustice or impunity, no amount of blackmail or intimidation would cow us to abdicate our constitutional responsibility which we signed with our employers (the Nigerian people) to stand firm and protect their interest.”
We support the move – CPC
The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has pledged its support for the move to impeach President Jonathan. Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the national publicity secretary of the party, Engr Rotimi Fashakin, said the party was in support of the decision as a right step in the right direction.
Fashakin said: “Since the Appropriation Act was not implemented, and the House of Representatives has given the president from now till September to fully implement the Appropriation Act, and if he fails they would proceed on impeachment, it is a right decision by the House of Representatives.”
Fashakin said the issue of impeachment should be seen as a way of checking the president, and a way also to make the president do the right thing. He asked Nigerians to support the decision of the House of Representatives.
“Impeachment itself is a check against the arbitrariness of the holder of the office of president. Imagine the scrupulous process of the Appropriation Bill, then passed into law, and everything is washed away. That is why we are in this sorry path as a nation. This has made the House of Representative take the bull by the horn, and it is very commendable. Anybody who loves Nigeria as a corporate entity should support their move and what they are saying,” Fashakin said.
He also urged the president to implement the budget to the letter instead of piling pressure to lobby the House of Representatives to rescind its decision.
Katsina Lawmakers to sue Jonathan over budget implementation
Barring a last-minute intervention, the member representing Kankia-Kusada-Ingawa constituency of Katsina State in the House of Representatives, Hon Ahmed Babba Kaita, and five of his colleagues may drag President Jonathan to court over poor budget implementation.
Hon Kaita told journalists in Katsina at the weekend that he and five of his colleagues had concluded plans to drag the president to court.
He stated that the president has fallen short of people’s expectations in terms of budget implementation.
Kaita said the presidency was engaging in selective budget implementation and noted that the act was counter-productive to the nation’s development.
He accused the president of being biased in budget implementation as, according to him, “only the Niger Delta has received up to 60 per cent of its total budget so far whereas other critical sectors of the nation’s economy are unnecessarily starved of funds”.
Kaita, who said he supported the recent impeachment threat issued by the House, noted: “We are ready to take the president head-on if he fails to release money for immediate implementation of the budget as passed by the National Assembly.
“The president has no reason not to release money for immediate execution of projects captured in the budget because we have got enough since the budget was done with 75 dollars as bench and there is currently an increase in the prices of crude oil.”
He accused the federal government of abandoning critical sectors like water supply, noting: “We budgeted about N60 billion naira for water resources but it was slashed to N6 billion naira and we know we have about 241 dams in Nigeria, some at different stages of rehabilitation while others are begging for repairs.
“Of the N6 billion approved for the ministry, Okonjo-Iweala took the dam for N1.8 billion to her village, another dam project of N1.2billion was taken to Bayelsa State. As I speak to you, there is only N1billion remaining out of the ministry’s budget. Does that mean the rest of the country will now use that N1billion?”
The lawmaker, who accused the Jonathan presidency of engaging in looting galore, said poor budget implementation as is currently happening in the country would not augur well for the so-called transformation agenda because “budget implementation is key to economic development”.