Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and President Goodluck Jonathan
INTERVENTIONS by the Peoples Democratic Party notwithstanding, the House of Representatives on Sunday insisted that President Goodluck Jonathan must achieve 100 per cent budget implementation by September or face impeachment.
Apparently reacting to interventions by the PDP and reported overtures by the President to save his job, the House said it would not change its resolution midway.
“A resolution of the House is a resolution of the House; nobody can change it midway,” spokesman for the lawmakers, Zakari Muhammed, told The PUNCH in Abuja.
Muhammed said the only alternative was for Jonathan to achieve a 100 per cent budget implementation by September in accordance with the resolution of the House.
The lawmakers on Thursday frowned on the poor implementation of the 2012 budget and set a September 18 deadline for the Jonathan administration.
“The budget implementation is about 35 percent,” the Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Mr. John Enoh, had told his colleagues. Enoh said the committee found that only a meagre N200bn had been released to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in the first two quarters of the year.
The House also directed the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to immediately release all first and second quarter capital votes to the MDAs.
The resolution, which was endorsed by all members, faulted the minister’s decision to withhold the funds of some MDAs on the grounds that they were unable to utilise their first quarter votes.
The House noted that withholding funds under any excuse was a “breach of the Appropriation Act (2012).”
The action of the House gave rise to reported moves by the Presidency and the leadership of the PDP at the weekend to make the lawmakers reverse their threat.
Jonathan and the National Chairman of the PDP, Bamangar Tukur, had reportedly reached out to the Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, with a view to influencing the lawmakers to soft-pedal on their threat.
But Muhammed said while the moves were legitimate, nobody could change a stand already taken by the legislators on the floor of the House.
“Our practice is that our resolution, once taken, it stands; it can only be reviewed on the floor of the House, not by an individual. A resolution of the House is a resolution of the House; nobody can change it midway. Not even the Speaker has the powers to change a House resolution,” the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said.
He added, “What the Executive should do is to implement the budget in line with the House resolution.
“Let us hold on to the promise of the House Leader (Mrs. Mulikat Akande-Adeola) that things will improve in the next two months.”
Akande-Adeola, had on Thursday urged her colleagues to wait till the expiration of the September deadline, assuring them that she was confident that things would have improved by then.
According to Muhammed, if funds are released to the MDAs and there is evidence that projects are being executed, members will say so on resumption from break on September 18.
“We have employers; they are the people of our constituencies. If they feel the impact of the budget, they will tell us and members will react accordingly”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the PDP, the party to which Jonathan and majority of members of the House belong to, has said it will not allow the President to be impeached.
The party said it would do everything within its powers to make sure that the frosty relationship between the House and the President did not degenerate into the level of impeachment.
To avoid this, the party said it had started consultations on how to make sure that the House work harmoniously with Jonathan.
Secretary of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jubril, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the party’s leadership had already commenced the process of ending the disagreement between the members of the lower legislative chamber and the Executive.
Though Jubril declined to give the specifics on the party’s intervention, he however said that the party would not fold its arms and allow the House impeach the President.
The party’s constitution in Article 12.80(f) bestows on the BOT the power to mediate in a conflict between the legislature and the Executive.
Jubril said, “The party is doing everything within its powers to resolve the misunderstanding between the two arms of government.
“Majority of the House members are PDP members and the President is also a member of our party. Therefore, we won’t allow the disagreement between them to lead to the point of impeaching the President.”