The House of Representatives launched yesterday a defence of its decision to begin impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan if the budget is not fully implemented by September.
The lawmakers said they were not unaware of the comments as well as what they described as the deliberate plan by the Presidency to misinform the public on the rationale behind their “nationalistic stand”.
House spokesman Zakari Mohammed, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said the lawmakers’ decision was informed by the fact that the growth in the economy has not reflected in the well-being of Nigerians.
He said: “This bold and patriotic step by the Seventh Assembly has attracted different comments from a lot of quarters, expectedly. Therefore, some sponsored news, editorials and commentaries choose to deliberately misinform the public on the rationale behind our nationalistic stand, for the avoidance of doubt, whilst we are aware that all revenue-generating agencies have surpassed their annual target by mid this year.
“The House is worried that this positive development did not reflect the implementation of the budget for the benefit of the Nigerian peoples.”
The spokesman also faulted reasons adduced by the Presidency as being behind the impeachment moves, saying: “This trend, if not arrested, would worsen the already fragile state of the nation, hence the need for our quick intervention.
“To then insinuate that the House of Representatives took this noble step to satisfy pressure from a political party or because the Constituency projects were not awarded to members or because of the drama that followed the presentation of the fuel subsidy report, is to say the least malicious damaging and uncharitable to the image of the Assembly.
“We in the Legislature are lawmakers and not contractors and the constituency projects execution has been the exclusive preserve of the executive and its agencies. At no time has there been any argument on this.
“Similarly, what members do in the course of the budget preparation is to furnish the respective MDAs with locations and areas of needs of our constituencies.
“The bidding processes are handled by the supervising ministries. The entire 360 members in the House are bound by the Nigerian project, our independence and objectiveness is evident in the selection of our principal officers which we did according to our thoughts.
“To assume that we are guided by some forces outside the House of Representatives is mischievous and a deliberate ploy to misrepresent the House before the Nigerian public”.
According to the spokesman, the lawmakers took steps to preserve the integrity of the institution by not shying away from sanctioning erring members. He cited the bribery scandal involving House member Farouk Lawan and businessman Femi Otedola from which he said the 7th Assembly has distanced itself.
Besides, he said, Lawan was suspended as Chairman of the committees on fuel subsidy and education, and the House encouraged law enforcement agencies to do their work according to the dictates of the law.
“To now conclude that our resolution on Thursday is borne out of selfish motives is terribly out of place, We would, however, continue to raise our voices to the highest ebb where we sight injustice or impunity; no amount of blackmail or intimidation would cow us to abdicate our constitutional responsibility which we signed with our employers (the Nigerian people) to stand firm and protect their interest,” Mohammed added.