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House threatens to impeach Jonathan over budget execution backposted on Fri, 20 Jul at 10:14
Majority of lawmakers criticised the executive for the alleged poor implementation of the budget, and gave President Goodluck Jonathan up until September, when back from recess, to ensure effective implementation of the budget or face impeachment.
It was, however, uncertain how the House’s threat could cost Jonathan his job as Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution that stipulates the process for the removal of the president requires that for such a resolution to be effective, it must be passed by not less than two-thirds majority of all members of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The presidency, however, said Jonathan was doing all he could to ensure the implementation of the budget.
The House said the failure of the Jonathan administration to implement the 2012 Appropriation Act midway into the fiscal year amounted to gross misconduct and warned that it would “begin to draw up articles of impeachment” if by September there was no appreciable improvement on the implementation of the budget.
It alleged that while the economy had recorded consistent inflow of revenue even above the projections in the budget, the government had starved Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of funds thereby stalling the execution of various projects nationwide.
Statistics indicate that the budget has attained only 35 per cent implementation mark as at the end of June.
It was also learnt that of the N1.5 trillion earmarked for capital expenditure in the budget, the Federal Ministry of Finance had released only N404 billion by June.
The House, therefore, passed a resolution urging Jonathan to direct the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to release all funds due to MDAs for the first and second quarters as well as stop forthwith the selective implementation of the budget.
The stage for the face-off between the lawmakers and the executive was set when the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa, and 20 other legislators moved a motion to consider the implementation of the budget.
In the lead debate on the motion, Sam-Tsokwa noted that the 2012 budget as passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by Jonathan reflected the application of the highest degree of fiscal responsibility and utmost consideration of the national interest.
He, however, lamented that seven months into the fiscal year, the implementation of the budget had remained poor.
During the debate, Speaker of the House, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, yielded the floor to the leadership of various standing committees to brief the House on the state of the budget.
Among those who briefed the chamber were the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon John Enoh; Chairman, Committee on Finance, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibril; Chairman, Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Hon. Bassey Edet Otu; Chairman, Committee on Gas Resources, Hon. Bassey Ewah; Chairman, Committee on Debts and Loans, Hon Adeyinka Ajayi and Chairman, Committee on Defence, Hon. Bashir Adamu.
The chairmen, in their presentations, deplored the poor implementation of the budget.
However, the lawmakers were roused to anger when Adamu painted a gloomy picture of the defence sector while alleging that even the insecurity across the country had also been compounded by the non-implementation of the budget in the sector.
He urged his colleagues to desist from further lamentations but to invoke their powers under the 1999 Constitution to compel the executive to obey the law.
Minority Whip of the House, Hon. Samson Osagie, said the non-implementation of the budget was a gross misconduct and those responsible for it must be sanctioned, adding that if by September when the parliament resumes from break, there was no positive change on the budget implementation, the House would be forced to sanction Okonjo-Iweala.
The debate, however, got to its climax when the Minority Leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, in his contribution, carpeted the government and called for serious sanction against the president.
However, a point of order was raised by Hon. Nadu Karibo, who protested that the debate had derailed from its subject matter.
According to Gbajabiamila, poor implementation of the budget was among impeachable offences outlined in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution.
House Leader, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, intervened and pleaded with the lawmakers to have patience, as they were also part of the government.
She pledged that there would be significant improvement on the budget before the September deadline.
Thereafter, the motion that the president should ensure full implementation of the budget by September or face impeachment was unanimously adopted in a voice vote.
However, the presidency, in a swift reaction to the motion, said there was nothing unusual in the motion passed by the House.
Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, told THISDAY Thursday that the House review of the budget, coming against the backdrop of efforts by Jonathan to monitor the full implementation of the budget, showed that the two arms of government “are on all fours” on the issue.
He said: “Obviously, what the House did was not unusual. There is no problem in this regard. What Nigerians need to know is that budget implementation is not a one-off thing; it is a process.
Abati added that such a meeting with other ministries and their agencies as well as departments are regular because there is a focus on budget implementation, noting that it is something the Jonathan administration takes seriously.
On her part, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emordi, said she would react to the position of the House “at an appropriate time".
Source: Joy News.