20 July 2012

Nigeria: Representatives Threaten to Impeach Jonathan

Photo: Vanguard
President Goodluck Jonathan.

Abuja — The House of Representatives, yesterday, threatened to invoke articles of impeachment against President Goodluck Jonathan if by September the Minister of Finance does not release funds for MDAs.

Also, the Federal Government was scored far below average in all spheres as various committee chairmen scored all the MDAs they did oversight low.

Hon Femi Gbajabiamila representing Surulere inLagosStatewho initiated the debate on budget implementation, suggested that if the economy is not properly greased by September then the House may not have any option than to start impeachment process against the President.

Gbajabiamila in his argument stated that "the President had come to the floor of the House with a budget which he called transformation budget but it is a budget of abracadabra and voodoo."

As the whole House received his declaration with loud ovation, Gbajabiamila continued: "The president is not doing anybody any favour as constituency projects are done all over the world.

I have met the President, he is a fine man, I like him but I like my country more because when the budget is not implemented, our constituents suffer and it leads to lack of infrastructure; so come September, if the budget is not 100 per cent implemented, we will start to throw articles of impeachment at the president"

But before he could continue, Hon Nado Terembe representing Bayelsa, raised a point of Order that Order 9 Rule 61 is being violated.

He said: "Gbajabiamila's contribution is not in alignment with the first motion or bill on the floor so impeaching the president is not relevant in this issue". Terembe was shouted down but the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal who presided, quickly intervened and sustained his point of order.

Members again gave Gbajabiamila a standing ovation.

The Speaker, however, asked Gbajabiamila to continue.

The Minority Leader intervened saying: "Let me point out a superior Order which is Section 143 of the constitution. For avoidance of doubts the President may be removed in accordance with the law whenever he is found guilty in the performance of his duties."

How it all started

The drama came to the fore when a. Motion supported by 21 members was presented to the floor of the House by Hon Albert Sám Tsokwa.

This resolution which emanated from the motion moved by Rep. Tsokwa (PDP-Taraba) tagged 'the non- implementation of the 2012 budget' was adopted.

Leading the debate, Sam Tsokwa noted that the 2012 budget was passed with an aggregate expenditure figure of N4.8 trillion including the N180 billion Subsidy Re-investment(SURE) programme.

According to Tsokwa, the budget which was passed and signed into law by the president reflected the application of the highest degree of fiscal responsibility by the National Assembly.

He expressed worries that seven months into the 2012 fiscal year, capital budget implementation by various MDAs was far behind expectations.

The legislator lamented that, in spite of the fact that the MDAs had reached advanced stages in the implementation of the procurement process, they were unable to release contract award letters because of insufficient funds.

Hon. John Enoh ( PDP-Cross River), the chairman of Appropriation Committee in his contribution noted that the total release for capital projects of N400 billion was effected in the first quarter regretting that even with this abysmal release, the cash backing was just N200 billion which translates to only 35 per cent. He said that unless the parliament stepped up its efforts to impress on the executive, the budget would not be implemented.

The legislator noted that the bulk of the problem is the lack of will to implement the law.

Hon. Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi (PDP-Enugu) who supported the motion said that the House should stop its earlier plans to interface with the Ministry of Finance and other relevant agencies of government.

Hon. Samson Osagie (ACN-Orhionwhon/Ohuede), Minority Whip said that the executive must be taught the necessary lesson on non-implementation of the budget.

Finance Ministry tasked on MDAs

He said that the Ministry of Finance should be compelled to release funds to all MDAs without delay.

Abdulmumin Jibril (PDP-Kano), the chairman of the House Committee on Finance said thatNigeriahad enough resources to fund budgets.

Bassey Ewah (PDP-CrossRiver) in his own contribution said that there were MDAs operating foreign bank accounts unknown to the National Assembly. He argued that there was a complete failure on the part of government for not doing what was expected of it.

Ewah alleged that some ministries were keeping secret foreign accounts, pledging to give details of the accounts when he concludes investigations he launched into the matter.

Decrying the worsening state of roads across the country, House Committee Chairman on Works, Hon Ogbuefo Ozomgbachi said the non payment of contractors has resulted in the stalling of road construction across the nation. He described as strange and clear violation of the constitution, refusal of the Minister of Finance to release appropriated funds meant for ministries and agencies. According to him this has slowed down implementation of the budget.

The Reps in conclusion of their arguments submitted that the nation was drifting and called for a concerted effort to make the populace feel the impact of democracy.

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