Hon. Emmanuel Jime
Hon. Emmanuel Jime, a two time House of Representatives member, represents Makurdi /Guma, Federal Constituency of Benue State. In this interview with journalists, he took time out to field questions on raging national issues. George Oko was there. Excerpts:
How is the legislative business so far?
I believe so far, so good, we set before the House of Representatives a very ambitious programme as encapsulated in our legislative agenda. What that has done is to put the House on a footing. That also means that we are now more committed to doing legislative duties in order to ensure that we can beat our chest.
Hopefully, two years down the road, I can say that we are able to achieve what we set out to achieve in that agenda. We believe that if we are able to do even 50 percent of what we set before us, then this seventh Assembly will turn out to be a great improvement as far as all the other sessions of the National Assembly are concerned.
As you know, we have a very able leadership. The Honourable Speaker Aminu Tambuwal has been up and doing. He is actually also gingered up just like the rest of members of the House. Currently, what we are doing is the oversight which we have embarked upon to monitor the performance of the budget 2012. Before I left Abuja, we were actually in the process of compiling the reports of our findings.
I have to say also that when the president presented the budget, the unity of purpose by the National Assembly was displayed. The Senate and the House of Representatives are working together as one, which is something that I hadn’t quite experienced especially in the sixth Assembly. We are now moving together in one direction as a parliament.
I think the country benefits when the two arms of the National Assembly are working in unity as we are doing presently. I am optimistic that with the time available to us, it is possible we can achieve so much in the period we have left.
The House recently threatened the President with impeachment over budget implementation. Has the issue been resolved or the House just decided to drop the move?
Well, I don’t know where this thing about threat of impeachment is coming from except from the media. What I recall was that before we went on recess, clearly, everybody was aggrieved and I think this is something that concerns all of us in this nation- that the implementation of the budget now and in the years gone by hasn’t been up to expectation. But perhaps, if you want to achieve a level of progress, we must as a nation then, take seriously budget implementation because until we are convinced that we are making progress in that regard, it will seem to me that development is going to elude us for sometime.
So, when we take seriously budget implementation, I think we will have a better nation. Now, coming to the point whether it was a threat that was issued or not, I recall that when we were about going on recess, there was a debate regarding budget performance which eventually led to this oversight that we did recently. In the course of our debate, one of our colleagues in his contribution alluded to the fact that we could explore all constitutional means to ensure the budget was properly implemented. Of course, that could be interpreted to mean that we were issuing an impeachment threat because that obviously is one of the constitutional means available to us. But impeachment is also a very serious business. It means you don’t just wake up one morning and impeach the president.
There must be very serious and grievous allegations with constitutional backing that can propel you to do that. What I can say is that clearly, the executive took seriously the discussion and the resolution that came during the course of that debate. Of course, impeachment was not one of the resolutions that we made that day. The executive was encouraged to ensure even greater budget performance and implementation. Like I said, I believe that was taken seriously by the executive.
During the course of the two months of recess, certainly in the case of the committee that I have oversight of, the (Federal Capital Territory) FCT committee, I am happy to announce that budget implementation was really at a very high level. Again, I hasten to say that we can do more but surely when you look at the point we were when that deliberation came up on the floor of the House and two months after; if you look at the quantum of improvement that we’ve been able to achieve within the FCT budget (I can’t speak for other sectors of the economy but certainly with regards to FCT), I can say there is a level of improvement that I think is considerable.
So, if all that we’ve been able to achieve with that particular debate - whether it was interpreted to mean that we were issuing a threat to the executive or otherwise, I think the major motive behind the discussion was to spur the executive in the direction of making sure that the
budget implementation was actually elevated and as far as I can see today, I believe that we’ve been able to achieve some successes with that discussion.
The president is alleged to be weak. And this is viewed as the main reason for continued state of insecurity. What is your view on this as well as your thought on insecurity in the land?
First, let me start by answering this in a way that I understand it best. It is the job of leadership especially in a nation of 150 million people with divergent opinions to tackle any crisis in the land. But to saythat the president appears to be weak in certain areas may not be right. In truth, what I have for the president is sympathy really and not criticism. I am not one of those who think that the job of security or securing a nation is singularly the responsibility of one individual.
You have to recognise the fact that the president has all manners of appointees who work under him and you have service chiefs and members of the security committee down the line; some of those who also have responsibility for taking certain decisions. But by far, I think most importantly, is the recognition that security is something that all of us as a nation must come together to work on. The whole idea that because I am outside the government, it’s only the responsibility of someone who is in government to provide security even when that really is the core principle upon which good governance is built, is untrue. I argue that we must recognise that everybody has a role to play in this.
Yes, the president must provide leadership within the limit of a democratic institution. You see, part of the problem I think is the fact that we are coming, if you like, from the military system of government and dictatorship where the word of one man was law and everything.