President Goodluck Jonathan
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has set up a committee to study the grievances of the House of Representatives, which is threatening to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan for poor implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act.
The committee, according to the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, will study the House’s grievances against the president and consider Jonathan’s position on the matter with a view to determining how it could amicably resolve the crisis, considered an embarrassment to the ruling party.
Jaja, briefing reporters in Abuja Thursday on the outcome of a meeting of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), also said the party would not come to the rescue of any member indicted in the fuel subsidy probe.
Some of the 12 individuals now facing trial for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government through the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) have links to the party.
They include Mahmud Tukur, son of the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Mamman Nasir Ali, son of one of Tukur’s predecessor, Dr. Ahmadu Ali; as well as Abdullahi Alao, son of a patron of the party, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao.
Jaja said the party was worried by the crisis of confidence between the House and Jonathan, adding that since majority of the lawmakers are from the same party as the president, the PDP considered it necessary to quickly mediate in the crisis before it festers.
He said: “The party has set up the machinery to look into all the grievances of the members of the National Assembly and what the position of the president is. There must be areas for the two parties to meet and to resolve this thing in the interest of democracy in this country.
“Of course, what the party is doing is taking up the process, because there is a process with which the party meets the people. Yes, many of them (members of the House of Representatives) are PDP people; I agree, but they have their grievances.
“We will not just say that they are PDP people and lord it over them. This thing must be handled diplomatically so that wherever anybody has gone wrong, it will be sorted out and eventually this storm will blow over.”
Before it went on recess last week, the House had given the president an ultimatum to ensure the full implementation of the budget by September, when it resumes, or face impeachment.
However, the presidency on Wednesday said the lawmakers’ expectations were unrealistic, explaining that the slow pace of the budget’s implementation was partly as a result of the inclusion of constituency projects in the budget, which must pass through due process.
The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who held a briefing on the state of the budget, said the original bill sent to the National Assembly for consideration was jettisoned and a new one crafted.
This, she stressed, had forced ministries to commence fresh procurement processes, a move described as procedural and lawful.
She also said that it was not possible to attain 100 per cent budget execution, as demanded by the House, adding that there was nowhere in the world where the budget is implemented 100 per cent.
She added that the budget had attained a 56-per-cent mark in implementation as at July 20.
Jaja, however, said there was no reason to panic over the impeachment threat against the president, adding that such a threat was a normal occurrence in a democracy.
“It is not the first time any president has been threatened with impeachment; not only in this our country, even in America where several presidents had been threatened with impeachment.
“It is not a fluke that they are not making any sense, it is also not a fluke that the president is making errors leading to the impeachment threat; and at times, we over blow these things. But there is no threat actually, as it were; it is the usual thing that happens in any democratic process,” he said.
Jaja, who also exonerated Bamanga Tukur from the fuel subsidy scandal, said: “On the issue of some PDP members being involved in the oil subsidy scam, these are individuals and everybody will bear his or her own cross.
“There are governors who are party members who are now facing prosecution because of their actions and inactions; so it is not a party thing.
“PDP did not send anybody to go and misbehave. Even if you mention my chairman’s son, he is of age. Assuming he is to go to jail, they will not come and jail the national chairman because he did not send him (his son).
“He is of age and he has a household; he has his family. Everybody will account for his own actions. And of course, it has been mentioned that until they are proven guilty, they still remain innocent. So the party cannot just get out and breathe down on them and begin to condemn them.
“They will be given equal opportunity to defend themselves in a competent court of law and until they are found guilty, then the party will come out and take a position.
“But for now, for the party to begin to condemn them, is absolutely premature and prejudicial,” he said.