Reps divided over impeachment plot against JonathanHouse, Legislature Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
July 25, 2012 by Niyi Odebode, John Ameh, Olusola Fabiyi, Oluwole Josiah and Olalekan Adetayo
The division in the House, particularly among the Peoples Democratic Party’s lawmakers, came to the fore on Tuesday when the Chairman of the Committee on Capital Market, Mr. Ibrahim El-Sudi, said that the threat was the handiwork of the opposition in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
But the House spokesman, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, in an interview with one of our correspondents, faulted El-Sudi, saying he was merely expressing his personal opinion.
The lawmakers had on Thursday accused the President of breaching the 2012 Appropriation Act and poorly executing the budget. They also adopted a motion giving Jonathan up to September to achieve “100 per cent execution” of the budget or face impeachment proceedings.
The motion was endorsed by all members of the House.
El-Sudi however on Tuesday, on Sunrise Daily, a live breakfast programme of a private television, Channels TV, gave an impression that the decision was the idea of members of the opposition in the House.
When one of the television presenters sought to know from El-Sudi why the PDP-dominated House was issuing an impeachment threat against the President, the lawmaker said the threat came from members of the opposition.
He added that contrary to the widely-publicised reports of the impeachment threat, the House of Representatives had not taken any decision on what would happen by September.
El-Sudi said, “It (the impeachment threat) came from members of the opposition and they are entitled to their opinion. It was not a resolution of the House.
“The House resolved that the President should implement the budget as passed. The House has not taken a decision on what will happen come September.”
Presidential adviser on National Assembly Matters, Joy Emodi, re-echoed El-Sudi’s submission while briefing journalists in Abuja later on Tuesday.
Emodi said there was no threat of impeachment against the President from the House.
She said, “The original motion had only two prayers and after deliberations and an amendment by Hon. Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi, only one prayer was carried by the House and it had nothing to do with impeachment threat.
“What actually happened during the debate on budget implementation was that the Minority Leader ( Femi Gbajabiamila, Lagos, ACN) in his contribution, mentioned impeachment which was not even put to vote. At no time did the House resolve to impeach the President.
“In fact, the House in its resolution urged Mr. President to ensure implementation of the provisions of section 6 of the 2012 Appropriation Act by directing the Minister of Finance to release immediately all outstanding funds appropriated to the MDAs for the first and second quarters and begin forthwith to comply with the Act by ensuring that the funds appropriated under the Act to the MDAs for the remaining third and fourth quarters are released as and when due.”
Emodi commended the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, for his “very mature handling of deliberations on the motion that day.”
But Mohammed in an interview with one of our correspondents, said El-Sudi was merely expressing his personal opinion.
Contrary to El-Sudi’s claim, Mohammed said the threat to impeach Jonathan was the decision of all members of the House.
“The resolution of the House was clear and simple. Gbajabiamila’s prayer was taken as part of the resolution of all the members,” Mohammed, who is also a member of the PDP, said.
Mohammed said there had been attempts to heat up the polity over the decision of the House “by diverting attention from the main issue, which is poor budget implementation.”
He added that the position of the House was “conditional.”
Mohammed explained that if members were satisfied by September 18 that budget implementation has improved remarkably, the impeachment proceedings would no longer be necessary.
“It is conditional; we said do this or by 18th September, impeachment proceedings will commence.
“That was the resolution and we stand by it till September 18.The attempt to heat the polity over this issue is unnecessary and diversionary. People talk as though they do not know the importance of budget implementation.”
Members of the PDP National Working Committee will however deliberate on the move to impeach the President at their meeting on Wednesday (today).
Investigations by our correspondent on Tuesday indicated that the refusal of the members to speak on the issue was because the NWC had not deliberated on the matter.
A member of the committee, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, said that the impeachment threat had been listed among the issues to be discussed at the meeting.
“We are going to discuss the matter at our meeting on Wednesday after which we would issue a statement on the matter,” the PDP NWC member said.
Meanwhile, there were indications that Jonathan had been taking steps to escape the anger of the lawmakers with various ministers briefing the President behind closed doors on budget performance of their ministries.
On Thursday last week, the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy-Capt. Caleb Olubolade; and his interior ministry counterpart, Mr. Abba Moro, took turns to brief the President.
They did not speak with journalists.
But after the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, briefed Jonathan on Tuesday, the Presidency decided that the minister should speak with State House correspondents on what he discussed with the President.
Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, said he decided that the minister should brief journalists on the meeting with the President because they are “the ears and eyes of your media houses and by extension the public.”
“Budget performance is something the President takes very seriously. It is not an event, it is a process,” Abati said.
Adesina told the journalists that he used the opportunity to intimate Jonathan of the progress being made by the ministry as far as Budget 2012 was concerned and the challenges.
He said the President was satisfied with the progress the ministry was making in the area of agricultural transformation agenda the goal of which was to provide food security and reduce importation of food as well as create sustainable jobs.
The minister said his ministry had recorded 68 per cent budget utilisation.
He said, “The 2012 Budget was passed on March 15, 2012 and agriculture’s season started in January.
“N48.1billion was budgeted for capital projects with N13.8billion released.
“So far, we have spent N9.4billion of the amount released. We have achieved 68 per cent utilisation at least for the main ministry, while some of our parastatals have achieved as much as 100 per cent of the amount released to them from March when the budget was passed.”
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