By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Emman Ovuakporie & Chris Ochayi
LAGOS—The intervention of the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, notwithstanding, the House of Representatives will commence impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan this September in the event he continues to err in the implementation of the 2012 budget.
Senator Mark and some other principal officers of state have intervened in the unfolding dispute between the House and the Presidency on account of the alleged failure of the president to fully implement the budget.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP yesterday said it endorsed the move of the legislators.
To give vent to the resolve, a select group of members have ganged to prepare the articles of impeachment during the ongoing holiday of the House.
The group whose number was not fully known as at press time yesterday, is drawn from across party and geopolitical lines, one source who is involved revealed yesterday.
The determination of members to forge ahead with the hard stance of the House followed what was claimed to be the inability of the Presidency to resolve the impasse.
The House had at its last sitting on Thursday before adjournment for recess, threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Jonathan should he fail to implement the budget as passed.
Yesterday, there were indications that Speaker Aminu Tambuwal was under serious pressure from various political stakeholders over the House resolution.
Among those who intervened in the issue, it was learnt yesterday, was Senator Mark who visited the Presidential Villa with Speaker Tambuwal.
What Mark told Presidency
At the meeting, Senator Mark was reported to have highlighted the essence of the House resolution which he said was upon the frustration of the House members.
“The Senate President noted that the executive had in the past complained that the National Assembly unduly increased the budget proposals presented by the executive but he told them that this time that the senate and the House passed the budget virtually as presented by the executive and that there was as such no reason not to implement the budget.
“The Senate President further noted the fact that all revenue generating agencies had virtually attained their targets for the year and that yet implementation was still standing at 30%,” one source revealed.
Buttressing the determination of the House members to ensure the executive heeds the warnings from the House, it was learnt that some members have ganged up to articulate an article of impeachment should the President fail to ensure implementation of the budget.
“We have formed a group to monitor the issue and prepare an article of impeachment should the President fail to comply. Our goal is to have an article of impeachment ready once the House resumes in September,” one member told Vanguard yesterday.
“For now nothing is happening. We are only watching and the ball is in their court,” the member said, yesterday, on the condition of anonymity.
Another member also added that the entreaties to the Speaker would amount to nothing as he said that the resolution on the budget was that of the House which the Speaker cannot reverse.
“It was the House that agreed on the resolution and for a change to be effected it has to be done by the whole House,” the member said.
Another prominent member of the House said that Speaker Tambuwal, out of deference to party solidarity, may have tactically dodged receiving an article of impeachment during the sitting of last Thursday.
Some members who spoke on record equally expressed concern on the poor implementation of the budget but noted that the impeachment threat would not derail the cordiality in the polity or the PDP. Some of the members noted that the impeachment notice would in the end foster better relations between the two arms.
Rep. Akpan Micah Umoh, PDP, Akwa Ibom State said: “It will not, rather it’s a wake up call and an opportunity for the executive to get out of the vicious cycle and hit the road with results and not excuses.
“It’s also a very good bargaining chip for the president and our economic team when talking with international financial advisory institutions on fiscal policies. Indeed taking a look at the flip side, it is a help in setting targets at budget implementation.”
Also speaking on the issue, Chairman, House Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs and Vice President Common Wealth Parliamentary Association, Rep. Daniel Reyenieju said: “The impeachment threat will not in any way decimate the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, rather it will bring about unity in the party and foster a better relationship with both arms of government”
“We carry out oversight functions, we know the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government far better than the Executive arm.”
Impeachment threat good for democracy
“The impeachment threat in my thinking is not expected to generate acrimony, instead is to create a consciousness that there is need to galvanise the MDAs into action via proper budget implementation.”
The hope of cordiality from the members nonetheless, the CNPP has urged the House to press on with its resolve saying that failure to promptly implement budgets has been the cause dilapidated infrastructure and poor social services in the country.
National Publicity Secretary of the CNPP, Mr. Osita Okechukwu in a statement yesterday said: “CNPP joins the House of Representatives in calling for the expeditious implementation of the 2012 Budget; for over the years, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led Federal Government of Nigeria has in spite of unprecedented Oil Revenue failed to advance the welfare of Nigerians, hence the Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other social vices.
“We are at a loss how the gross unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure and decadence of social services can be addressed without implementation of the Budget.
“Or is it the Boko Haram insurgency as President Jonathan claimed that is distracting the government from implementing the Budget?
“In its wisdom the government has pegged the Budget at $72 per barrel of Oil and the price of a barrel per day has been hovering between $90 and $100, so there is no cogent reason to halt Budget implementation.
“CNPP recalls with nostalgia how $43 billion saved in the Federation Account in the years preceding 2007 by ex-president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo regime, under the same guise of non-implementation and pegging of budget was squandered; the outcome is decayed infrastructure and social paralysis.
“Is it not a shame that during late General Sani Abacha’s regime when the oil price hovered between $15 and $18 per barrel a day that the regime’s project profile execution towered above that of the government of the day?”
“Finally, we support the House Resolution, for the violation of the Appropriation Act, especially when the money is there, is tantamount to violation of the Social Contract between the government and the people.