By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, OKEY NDIRIBE & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
LAGOS — With the House of Representatives unrelenting in its impeachment threat against President Goodluck Jonathan, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP will today formally intervene in the crisis.
The PDP’s intervention through its National Working Committee, NWC is coming as the House, yesterday, maintained its stance on the September ultimatum to Jonathan to fully implement the 2012 budget. The House has also dismissed insinuations of a conspiracy by other political interests against the Presidency.
The communiqué from the House came as it emerged that the Presidency was itself losing the backing of normally supportive members of the House. Of serious concern to the Presidency, it was learnt yesterday, was the fact that some House members from the South-South were becoming indifferent to the difficulties of the administration in the House over the ultimatum.
The House of Representatives had last Thursday issued an ultimatum to President Jonathan to fully implement the 2012 budget failing which the House would commence impeachment proceedings against him when it resumes from its seasonal break in September.
The formal intervention of the PDP NWC follows reports of the intervention of the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who was reported to have communicated with Speaker Aminu Tambuwal over the issue on telephone.
The act of intervening by telephone was something that some in the House of Representatives have seen as an example of the lack of seriousness on the part of the presidency in resolving the matter.
Members from the South-South geopolitical zone who had in the past backed President Jonathan, were, yesterday, pulling away from him, alleging that his failure to fully implement the budget was also damaging their political interests.
Meanwhile a plot to discredit the impeachment threat was yesterday afoot with supporters of the President aiming to link the threat of impeachment to the political opposition who they claimed were seeking to get power outside the ballot box.
“There is no serious threat from our members in the House but what we see is a determined scheme by the discredited opposition to gain power and relevance using the platform of the House of Representatives.
“In fact, we are not perturbed by the rumblings because we are all on the same page with the members of the House of Representatives on the matter of budgets and we are certainly not moved by the machination of the opposition,” a senior official of the PDP disclosed yesterday.
Besides the political opposition there were also insinuations of members being propelled by ulterior motives such as financial gain or other considerations.
It also emerged that the NWC of the party would be meeting with the issue on the top of the agenda.
Apparently responding to the insinuations of a plot by outside interests to destabilize the House, House spokesman, Rep. Zakari Mohammed in a statement yesterday dismissed it, saying that the House was essentially being driven by the patriotism of members.
“We in the Legislature are lawmakers and not contractors and execution of the constituency projects has been the exclusive preserve of the executive and its agencies. At no time has there been any argument on this,” Mohammed said in the statement yesterday. “The entire 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.”
Noting the effort of the House to distance itself from one of its allegedly errant members, Rep. Farouk Lawan, the House spokesman said:
“The 7th Assembly has distanced itself from the Hon. Farouk/ Otedola case as evident in the bold steps, we took in suspending Lawan as chairman of both the committees on fuel subsidy and education. In addition we have encouraged the law enforcement agencies to do their work according to the dictates of the law.
“To now conclude that our resolution of last Thursday was borne out of selfish motives is terribly out of place. We would, however, continue to raise our voices to the highest level 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.”
It also emerged that anger was also boiling over even among members normally supportive of the President.
“The executive has completely abandoned the constituency projects as contained in the budget that was passed by the National Assembly,” a member of the House from the South-South said yesterday.
“For instance, we are now on recess and we need to go back to our various constituencies but what are we going to point to as our achievements in the last one year when we face our people?”
He also condemned the Presidency’s handling of the situation adding that not even law-makers from the South-South region had been contacted for support on the unfolding scenario.
Said he: “I am from the South-south region and nobody has even reached out to us on this development”.
Chudi Uwazurike, (PDP, Imo) reacting on the budget impasse said: “There is no war with the Presidency; the House is not at war at all. There is of course frustration over the major function of the parliament which is oversight over the budget. Remember that the whole point of democracy is to make life easier and more meaningful.
“This particular budget was treated and passed in such a way that whatever the executive asked for, they really got. So there is no excuse whatsoever for failure and we are thoroughly disappointed with Mr. President that up till now less than 30% performance has been recorded. And worse, quite a lot of it has not been cash backed yet.”
Continuing, he said:
”so we have a situation where a lot needs to be done. We talk with our constituents; the 469 members of the National Assembly are the direct representatives of the people. So we feel the pressure. We are the ones who get this budget passed and we get to our constituents on weekly basis. If only the executive branch can actually deem itself being in partnership with the parliament, the country will move forward faster.